Helminth infections may modulate immune responses to unrelated pathogens and allergens; these effects may commence prenatally. We addressed the hypothesis that anthelminthic treatment in pregnancy and early childhood would improve responses to immunisation and modulate disease incidence in early childhood with both beneficial and detrimental effects.
Methods and Findings
A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was conducted in Entebbe, Uganda [ISRCTN32849447]. In three independent randomisations, 2507 pregnant women were allocated to receive single-dose albendazole or placebo, and praziquantel or placebo; 2016 of their offspring were randomised to receive quarterly single-dose albendazole or placebo from age 15 months to 5 years. Primary outcomes were post-immunisation recall responses to BCG and tetanus antigens, and incidence of malaria, diarrhoea, and pneumonia; incidence of eczema was an important secondary outcome. Analysis was by intention-to-treat. Of 2345 live births, 1622 (69%) children remained in follow-up at age 5 years. 68% of mothers at enrolment, and 11% of five-year-olds, had helminth infections. Maternal hookworm and Schistosoma mansoni were effectively treated by albendazole and praziquantel, respectively; and childhood hookworm and Ascaris by quarterly albendazole. Incidence rates of malaria, diarrhoea, pneumonia, and eczema were 34, 65, 10 and 5 per 100 py, respectively. Albendazole during pregnancy caused an increased rate of eczema in the children (HR 1.58 (95% CI 1.15–2.17), p = 0.005). Quarterly albendazole during childhood was associated with reduced incidence of clinical malaria (HR 0.85 (95% CI 0.73–0.98), p = 0.03). There were no consistent effects of the interventions on any other outcome.
Routine use of albendazole in pregnancy may not always be beneficial, even in tropical developing countries. By contrast, regular albendazole treatment in preschool children may have an additional benefit for malaria control where helminths and malaria are co-endemic. Given the low helminth prevalence in our children, the effect of albendazole on malaria is likely to be direct.
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN32849447
Helminth infections during pregnancy may be associated with adverse outcomes, including maternal anemia, low birth weight, and perinatal mortality. Deworming during pregnancy has therefore been strongly advocated, but its benefits have not been rigorously evaluated.
In Entebbe, Uganda, 2507 pregnant women were recruited to a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial investigating albendazole and praziquantel in a 2 × 2 factorial design [ISRCTN32849447]. Hematinics and sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine for presumptive treatment of malaria were provided routinely. Maternal and perinatal outcomes were recorded. Analyses were by intention to treat.
At enrollment, 68% of women had helminths, 45% had hookworm, 18% had Schistosoma mansoni infection; 40% were anemic (hemoglobin level, <11.2 g/dL). At delivery, 35% were anaemic; there was no overall effect of albendazole (odds ratio [OR], 0.95; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.79–1.15) or praziquantel (OR, 1.00; 95% CI, 0.83–1.21) on maternal anemia, but there was a suggestion of benefit of albendazole among women with moderate to heavy hookworm (OR, 0.45; 95% CI, 0.21–0.98; P = .15 for interaction). There was no effect of either anthelminthic treatment on mean birth weight (difference in mean associated with albendazole: −0.00 kg; 95% CI, −0.05 to 0.04 kg; difference in mean associated with praziquantel: −0.01 kg; 95% CI, −0.05 to 0.04 kg) or on proportion of low birth weight. Anthelminthic use during pregnancy showed no effect on perinatal mortality or congenital anomalies.
In our study area, where helminth prevalence was high but infection intensity was low, there was no overall effect of anthelminthic use during pregnancy on maternal anemia, birth weight, perinatal mortality, or congenital anomalies. The possible benefit of albendazole against anemia in pregnant women with heavy hookworm infection warrants further investigation.
Helminth infections affect the human immune response. We investigated whether prenatal exposure to and treatment of maternal helminth infections affects development of an infant's immune response to immunisations and unrelated infections.
In this randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, we enrolled 2507 women in the second or third trimester of pregnancy who were planning to deliver in Entebbe General Hospital, Entebbe, Uganda. With a computer-generated random number sequence in blocks of 100, we assigned patients to 440 mg albendazole and 40 mg/kg praziquantel (n=628), 440 mg albendazole and a praziquantel-matching placebo (n=625), 40 mg/kg praziquantel and an albendazole-matching placebo (n=626), or an albendazole-matching placebo and praziquantel-matching placebo (n=628). All participants and hospital staff were masked to allocation. Primary outcomes were immune response at age 1 year to BCG, tetanus, and measles immunisation; incidence of infectious diseases during infancy; and vertical HIV transmission. Analysis was by intention-to-treat. This trial is registered, number ISRCTN32849447.
Data were available at delivery for 2356 women, with 2345 livebirths; 2115 (90%) of liveborn infants remained in follow-up at 1 year of age. Neither albendazole nor praziquantel treatments affected infant response to BCG, tetanus, or measles immunisation. However, in infants of mothers with hookworm infection, albendazole treatment reduced interleukin-5 (geometric mean ratio 0·50, 95% CI 0·30–0·81, interaction p=0·02) and interleukin-13 (0·52, 0·34–0·82, 0·0005) response to tetanus toxoid. The rate per 100 person-years of malaria was 40·9 (95% CI 38·3–43·7), of diarrhoea was 134·1 (129·2–139·2), and of pneumonia was 22·3 (20·4–24·4). We noted no effect on infectious disease incidence for albendazole treatment (malaria [hazard ratio 0·95, 95% CI 0·79–1.14], diarrhoea [1·06, 0·96–1·16], pneumonia [1·11, 0·90–1·38]) or praziquantel treatment (malaria [1·00, 0·84–1·20], diarrhoea [1·07, 0·98–1·18], pneumonia [1·00, 0·80–1·24]). In HIV-exposed infants, 39 (18%) were infected at 6 weeks; vertical transmission was not associated with albendazole (odds ratio 0·70, 95% CI 0·35–1·42) or praziquantel (0·60, 0·29–1·23) treatment.
These results do not accord with the recently advocated policy of routine antenatal anthelmintic treatment, and the value of such a policy may need to be reviewed.
To investigate the effect of helminth infections and their treatment during pregnancy on HIV load, we conducted a 2×2 factorial randomised controlled trial of albendazole versus placebo and praziquantel versus placebo in pregnant women in Entebbe, Uganda
Two hundred and sixty-four HIV-infected women from the Entebbe Mother and Baby Study (ISRCTN32849447) were included in this analysis. Women were tested for helminth infections at enrolment and mean HIV load was compared between infected and uninfected groups. The effect of anthelminthic treatment on HIV load was evaluated at six weeks post-treatment and at delivery using linear regression and adjusting for enrolment viral load.
Hookworm and Trichuris infections were associated with higher mean viral load at enrolment (adjusted mean difference 0.24log10 copies/ml, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.01 to 0.47, p=0.03 and 0.37log10 copies/ml, 95%CI: 0.00 to 0.74, p=0.05, respectively). There were no associations between viral load and other helminth species. There was some evidence that albendazole reduced viral load at six weeks post-treatment (adjusted mean difference −0.17, 95% CI: −0.36 to 0.01, p=0.07), however this effect did not differ according to mother’s hookworm infection status and had diminished at delivery (adjusted mean difference −0.11, 95% CI: −0.28 to 0.07, p=0.23). There was no effect of praziquantel treatment on HIV load at any time point.
Infection with some soil-transmitted helminth species is associated with increased HIV load in pregnancy. Treatment with albendazole causes a small decrease in HIV load, however this may not represent a direct effect of worm removal.
HIV; viral load; helminths; anthelminthic treatment; clinical trial
The tuberculin skin test (TST) quantifies cell-mediated immunity to tuberculosis antigens. Helminths suppress cell-mediated immunity, so we studied the effect of helminth infection and deworming on the TST in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study in an indigenous Amazon community (N = 195). Stool microscopy diagnosed helminths in 98% and co-infection with multiple species in 24% of study subjects. The TST was positive (≥ 10 mm) for 49%, and responses increased with age (P < 0.001), Bacille Calmette Guerin (BCG) vaccination (P = 0.01), and tuberculosis contact (P = 0.05). TST results had no association with helminth-egg concentrations, species, or co-infections (all P > 0.1). One month after deworming with albendazole (three daily 400-mg doses), helminths were reduced, but 63% remained infected with helminths. Albendazole did not cause a change in TST size (P = 0.8) or positivity (P = 0.9) relative to placebo. Thus, TST reactions were unaffected by albendazole therapy that partially cured intestinal helminth infections, and TST interpretation was unaffected by high-burden helminth infections and co-infection with multiple helminth species.
Given that helminth infections are thought to have strong immunomodulatory activity, the question whether helminth infections might affect responses to malaria antigens needs to be addressed. Different cross-sectional studies using diverse methodologies have reported that helminth infections might either exacerbate or reduce the severity of malaria attacks. The same discrepancies have been reported for parasitemia.
To determine the effect of geohelminth infections and their treatment on malaria infection and disease outcome, as well as on immunological parameters, the area of Nangapanda on Flores Island, Indonesia, where malaria and helminth parasites are co-endemic was selected for a longitudinal study. Here a Double-blind randomized trial will be performed, incorporating repeated treatment with albendazole (400 mg) or placebo at three monthly intervals. Household characteristic data, anthropometry, the presence of intestinal helminth and Plasmodium spp infections, and the incidence of malaria episodes are recorded. In vitro cultures of whole blood, stimulated with a number of antigens, mitogens and toll like receptor ligands provide relevant immunological parameters at baseline and following 1 and 2 years of treatment rounds. The primary outcome of the study is the prevalence of Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax infection. The secondary outcome will be incidence and severity of malaria episodes detected via both passive and active follow-up. The tertiary outcome is the inflammatory cytokine profile in response to parasite antigens. The project also facilitates the transfer of state of the art methodologies and technologies, molecular diagnosis of parasitic diseases, immunology and epidemiology from Europe to Indonesia.
The study will provide data on the effect of helminth infections on malaria. It will also give information on anthelminthic treatment efficacy and effectiveness and could help develop evidence-based policymaking.
This study was approved by The Ethical Committee of Faculty of Medicine, University of Indonesia, ref:194/PT02.FK/Etik/2006 and has been filed by ethics committee of the Leiden University Medical Center. Clinical trial number:ISRCTN83830814. The study is reported in accordance with the CONSORT guidelines for cluster-randomized studies.
Offspring of Schistosoma mansoni-infected women in schistosomiasis-endemic areas may be sensitised in-utero. This may influence their immune responsiveness to schistosome infection and schistosomiasis-associated morbidity. Effects of praziquantel treatment of S. mansoni during pregnancy on risk of S. mansoni infection among offspring, and on their immune responsiveness when they become exposed to S. mansoni, are unknown. Here we examined effects of praziquantel treatment of S. mansoni during pregnancy on prevalence of S. mansoni and immune responsiveness among offspring at age five years.
In a trial in Uganda (ISRCTN32849447, http://www.controlled-trials.com/ISRCTN32849447/elliott), offspring of women treated with praziquantel or placebo during pregnancy were examined for S. mansoni infection and for cytokine and antibody responses to SWA and SEA, as well as for T cell expression of FoxP3, at age five years.
Of the 1343 children examined, 32 (2.4%) had S. mansoni infection at age five years based on a single stool sample. Infection prevalence did not differ between children of treated or untreated mothers. Cytokine (IFNγ, IL-5, IL-10 and IL-13) and antibody (IgG1, Ig4 and IgE) responses to SWA and SEA, and FoxP3 expression, were higher among infected than uninfected children. Praziquantel treatment of S. mansoni during pregnancy had no effect on immune responses, with the exception of IL-10 responses to SWA, which was higher in offspring of women that received praziquantel during pregnancy than those who did not.
We found no evidence that maternal S. mansoni infection and its treatment during pregnancy influence prevalence and intensity of S. mansoni infection or effector immune response to S. mansoni infection among offspring at age five years, but the observed effects on IL-10 responses to SWA suggest that maternal S. mansoni and its treatment during pregnancy may affect immunoregulatory responsiveness in childhood schistosomiasis. This might have implications for pathogenesis of the disease.
Infections with the blood fluke Schistosoma mansoni that cause schistosomiasis (also called Bilharzia) were not usually treated during pregnancy until 2002, but in 2002 a World Health Organization (WHO) team of experts recommended that praziquantel treatment of S. mansoni during pregnancy should be done. However, there was limited information on the effects of maternal S. mansoni infection and treatment during pregnancy on the outcomes in the offspring. We conducted a study in the Entebbe peninsula within Lake Victoria in Uganda to examine whether maternal S. mansoni infection or its treatment during pregnancy may have effects on the children's susceptibility to the infection. The children were examined at age five years old for the level of S. mansoni infection and for immune responses to schistosomes. At five years old few of the children in our study cohort were infected with S. mansoni. Our findings suggest that maternal infection with, or praziquantel treatment of S. mansoni during pregnancy did not influence the level of S. mansoni infection among the offspring. However our findings suggest an influence on regulation of the body's immune responses to schistosomes, which may have some effect on the progress of disease manifestations. This is an issue that needs further investigation.
Children aged between one and five years are particularly vulnerable to disease caused by soil-transmitted helminths (STH). Periodic deworming has been shown to improve growth, micronutrient status (iron and vitamin A), and motor and language development in preschool children and justifies the inclusion of this age group in deworming programmes. Our objectives were to describe the prevalence and intensity of STH infection and to investigate the effectiveness of repeated four-monthly albendazole treatments on STH infection in children aged one to four years.
The study was carried out in four semi-urban villages situated near Ile-Ife, Osun State, Nigeria. The study was a double-blind placebo-controlled randomised trial. Children aged one to four years were randomly assigned to receive either albendazole or placebo every four months for 12 months with a follow-up at 14 months.
The results presented here revealed that 50% of the preschool children in these semi-urban communities were infected by one or more helminths, the most prevalent STH being Ascaris lumbricoides (47.6%). Our study demonstrated that repeated four-monthly anthelminthic treatments with albendazole were successful in reducing prevalence and intensity of A. lumbricoides infections. At the end of the follow-up period, 12% and 43% of the children were infected with A. lumbricoides and mean epg was 117 (S.E. 50) and 1740 (S.E. 291) in the treatment and placebo groups respectively compared to 45% and 45% of the children being infected with Ascaris and mean epg being 1095 (S.E. 237) and 1126 (S.E. 182) in the treatment and placebo group respectively at baseline.
Results from this study show that the moderate prevalence and low intensity of STH infection in these preschool children necessitates systematic treatment of the children in child health programmes.
Current controlled trials ISRCTN44215995.
Offspring of women with schistosomiasis may exhibit immune responsiveness to schistosomes due to in utero sensitisation or trans-placental transfer of antibodies. Praziquantel treatment during pregnancy boosts maternal immune responses to schistosome antigens and reduces worm burden. Effects of praziquantel treatment during pregnancy on responses among offspring are unknown.
In a trial of anthelminthic treatment during pregnancy in Uganda (ISRCTN32849447; http://www.controlled-trials.com/ISRCTN32849447/elliott), offspring of women with Schistosoma mansoni were examined for cytokine and antibody responses to schistosome worm (SWA) and egg (SEA) antigen, in cord blood and at age one year. Relationships to maternal responses and pre-treatment infection intensities were examined, and responses were compared between the offspring of women who did, or did not receive praziquantel treatment during pregnancy.
Of 388 S. mansoni-infected women studied, samples were obtained at age one year from 215 of their infants. Stool examination for S. mansoni eggs was negative for all infants. Cord and infant samples were characterised by very low cytokine production in response to schistosome antigens with the exception of cord IL-10 responses, which were substantial. Cord and infant cytokine responses showed no association with maternal responses. As expected, cord blood levels of immunoglobulin (Ig) G to SWA and SEA were high and correlated with maternal antibodies. However, by age one year IgG levels had waned and were hardly detectable. Praziquantel treatment during pregnancy showed no effect on cytokine responses or antibodies levels to SWA or SEA either in cord blood or at age one year, except for IgG1 to SWA, which was elevated in infants of treated mothers, reflecting maternal levels. There was some evidence that maternal infection intensity was positively associated with cord blood IL-5 and IL-13 responses to SWA, and IL-5 responses to SEA, and that this association was modified by treatment with praziquantel.
Despite strong effects on maternal infection intensity and maternal immune responses, praziquantel treatment of infected women during pregnancy had no effect on anti-schistosome immune responses among offspring by age one year. Whether the treatment will impact upon the offspring's responses on exposure to primary schistosome infection remains to be elucidated.
Several co-infections have been shown to impact the progression of HIV-1 infection. We sought to determine if treatment of helminth co-infection in HIV-1 infected adults impacted markers of HIV-1 disease progression.
To date there have been no randomized trials to examine the effects of soil-transmitted helminth eradication on markers of HIV-1 progression.
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of albendazole (400mg daily for three days) in antiretroviral-naïve HIV-1 infected adults (CD4 >200 cells/mm3) with soil-transmitted helminth infection was conducted at ten sites in Kenya (Clinical Trials.gov NCT00130910). CD4 and plasma HIV-1 RNA levels at 12 weeks following randomization were compared in the trial arms using linear regression, adjusting for baseline values.
Of 1,551 HIV-1 infected individuals screened for helminth-infection, 299 were helminth-infected. 234 adults were enrolled and underwent randomization and 208 individuals were included in intent-to-treat analyses. Mean CD4 count was 557 cells/mm3 and mean plasma viral load was 4.75 log10 copies/mL at enrolment. Albendazole therapy resulted in significantly higher CD4 counts among individuals with Ascaris lumbricoides infection after 12 weeks of follow up (+109 cells/mm3; 95% CI +38.9 to +179.0, p=0.003) and a trend for 0.54 log10 lower HIV-1 RNA levels (p=0.09). These effects were not seen with treatment of other species of soil-transmitted helminths.
Treatment of A. lumbricoides with albendazole in HIV-1 co-infected adults resulted in significantly increased CD4 counts during 3-month follow-up. Given the high prevalence of A. lumbricoides infection worldwide, deworming may be an important potential strategy to delay HIV-1 progression.
HIV-1 progression; helminth; co-infection
The prevalence of asthma and atopic disease has been reported to be low in low income countries, however helminth infections are likely to be high among these communities. The question of whether helminth infections play a role in allergic diseases can best be addressed by intervention studies. None of the studies so far have been based on a large scale placebo-controlled trial.
This study was designed to assess how intestinal helminth infections can influence the immune response and atopic and allergic disorders in children in Indonesia. The relations between allergic outcomes and infection and lifestyle factors will be addressed. This study was set up among school-age children in semi urban and rural areas, located in Ende District of Flores Island, Indonesia. A randomized placebo-controlled anthelmintic treatment trial to elucidate the impact of helminth infections on the prevalence of skin prick test (SPT) reactivity and symptoms of allergic diseases will be performed. The children living in these semi-urban and rural areas will be assessed for SPT to allergens before and after 1 and 2 years of treatment as the primary outcome of the study; the secondary outcome is symptoms (asthma and atopic dermatitis); while the tertiary outcome is immune responses (both antibody levels to allergens and cellular immune responses).
The study will provide information on the influence of helminth infections and anthelmintic treatment on immune response, atopy and allergic disorders.
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN: ISRCTN83830814
Helminth infections are proposed to have immunomodulatory activities affecting health outcomes either detrimentally or beneficially. We evaluated the effects of albendazole treatment, every three months for 21 months, on STH, malarial parasitemia and allergy.
Methods and Findings
A household-based cluster-randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was conducted in an area in Indonesia endemic for STH. Using computer-aided block randomization, 481 households (2022 subjects) and 473 households (1982 subjects) were assigned to receive placebo and albendazole, respectively, every three months. The treatment code was concealed from trial investigators and participants. Malarial parasitemia and malaria-like symptoms were assessed in participants older than four years of age while skin prick test (SPT) to allergens as well as reported symptoms of allergy in children aged 5–15 years. The general impact of treatment on STH prevalence and body mass index (BMI) was evaluated. Primary outcomes were prevalence of malarial parasitemia and SPT to any allergen. Analysis was by intention to treat. At 9 and 21 months post-treatment 80.8% and 80.1% of the study subjects were retained, respectively. The intensive treatment regiment resulted in a reduction in the prevalence of STH by 48% in albendazole and 9% in placebo group. Albendazole treatment led to a transient increase in malarial parasitemia at 6 months post treatment (OR 4.16(1.35–12.80)) and no statistically significant increase in SPT reactivity (OR 1.18(0.74–1.86) at 9 months or 1.37 (0.93–2.01) 21 months). No effect of anthelminthic treatment was found on BMI, reported malaria-like- and allergy symptoms. No adverse effects were reported.
The study indicates that intensive community treatment of 3 monthly albendazole administration for 21 months over two years leads to a reduction in STH. This degree of reduction appears safe without any increased risk of malaria or allergies.
Helminth infections can alter susceptibility to malaria. Studies need to determine whether or not deworming programs can impact on Plasmodium infections in preschool children.
A double-blind placebo-controlled randomised trial was conducted to investigate the impact of anthelmintic treatment on Plasmodium infection in children aged 12-59 months. Children were randomly assigned to receive either albendazole or placebo every four months for 12 months with a follow-up at 14 months.
320 children (out of 1228, 26.1%) complied with all the follow-up assessments. Plasmodium prevalence and mean Plasmodium parasite density was significantly higher in the treatment group (44.9% and 2319 ± SE 511) compared to the placebo group (33.3% and 1471 ± 341) at baseline. The odds of having Plasmodium infection increased over time for children in both the placebo and treatment groups, however this increase was significantly slower for children in the treatment group (P = 0.002). By month 14, mean Plasmodium density had increased by 156% in the placebo group and 98% in the treatment group but the rate of change in Plasmodium density was not significantly different between the groups. The change from baseline in haemoglobin had a steeper increase among children in the treatment group when compared to the placebo group but this was not statistically significant.
Repeated four-monthly anthelminthic treatments for 14 months resulted in a significantly lower increase in the prevalence of Plasmodium infection in preschool children which coincided with a reduction in both the prevalence and intensity of A. lumbricoides infections.
Current controlled trials ISRCTN44215995
Praziquantel treatment of schistosomiasis boosts anti-schistosome responses, with ‘type 2 helper T-cell’ bias that may contribute to immunologically mediated killing and to protection against re-infection. Praziquantel treatment during pregnancy was recommended in 2002 but immunological effects of the treatment had not been investigated.
A cohort of 387 S. mansoni infected women was recruited within a larger trial of de-worming during pregnancy (ISRCTN32849447; http://www.controlled-trials.com/ISRCTN32849447/elliott). Women were randomised to receive either praziquantel or placebo during pregnancy. Six weeks after delivery all women received praziquantel. Whole blood culture cytokine responses to S. mansoni worm and egg antigens were measured before and six weeks after each treatment.
Schistosome specific cytokine responses were suppressed during pregnancy. Praziquantel treatment during pregnancy caused significant boosts in gamma interferon (IFNγ), interleukin (IL)-2, IL-4, IL-5 IL-13 and IL-10 responses to schistosome worm antigen and IFNγ, IL-5 and IL-13 to schistosome egg antigen; but these boosts were not as substantial as those seen for treatment after delivery.
Pregnancy suppresses potentially beneficial boost in cytokine responses associated with praziquantel treatment. Further studies are needed on the long term effect of treating schistosomiasis during pregnancy on morbidity and resistance to reinfection among treated women and their offspring.
Schistosomiasis; Schistosoma mansoni; human; praziquantel; treatment; pregnancy; cytokines; immunology; immune responses
Symptoms after human infection with the helminth Trichuris suis have not previously been described. Exposure to helminths has been suggested as immune therapy against allergy and autoimmune diseases. We randomized adults with allergic rhinitis to ingest a dose of 2500 T. suis eggs or placebo every 21 days for 168 days (total 8 doses) in a double-blind clinical trial. In a previous publication, we reported a lack of efficacy and a high prevalence of adverse gastrointestinal reactions. The aim of the present study was to present a detailed description of the adverse event data and post-hoc analyses of gastrointestinal reactions. Adverse events and severity (mild, moderate, severe) were recorded daily by subjects, classified by organ using MedDRA 10.0, and event rates compared between subjects on T. suis treatment vs. subjects on placebo. T. suis-specific serum IgG antibodies were measured by a fluoroenzymeimmunoassay (Phadia ApS). During 163 days complete follow-up, subjects ingesting T. suis eggs (N = 49) had a three to 19-fold higher rate of events (median duration, 2 days) with gastrointestinal reactions (moderate to severe flatulence, diarrhea, and upper abdominal pain) compared with placebo subjects (N = 47). The highest incidence of affected subjects was seen from the first few days and until day 42 (3rd dose): 63% vs. 29% for placebo; day 163: 76% vs. 49% for placebo. Seroprevalences increased concurrently in the T. suis group: Day 59, 50%; day 90, 91%; day 170, 93%. The combined duration of episodes with onset before day 42 was ≤14 days in 80% of affected subjects. Age, gender, total IgE, and recent intestinal symptoms at baseline did not predict gastrointestinal side effects. In conclusion, during the first 2 months, repeated ingestions of 2500 T. suis eggs caused frequent gastrointestinal reactions lasting up to 14 days, whereas 4 months further treatment mainly provoked a subclinical stimulation.
University hospital Medical Information Network trial registry Reg. no. R000001298, Trial ID UMIN000001070.
Although the role of immunoglobulin E (IgE) in immunity against helminth parasites is unclear, there is concern that therapeutic antibodies that neutralize IgE (anti-IgE) may be unsafe in subjects at risk of helminth infection.
We conducted an exploratory study to investigate the safety of omalizumab (anti-IgE) in subjects with allergic asthma and/or perennial allergic rhinitis at high risk of intestinal helminth infection. The primary safety outcome was risk of infections with intestinal helminths during anti-IgE therapy.
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was conducted in 137 subjects (12–30 years) at high risk of geohelminth infection. All subjects received pre-study anthelmintic treatment, followed by 52 weeks' treatment with omalizumab or placebo.
Of the omalizumab subjects 50% (34/68) experienced at least one intestinal geohelminth infection compared with 41% (28/69) of placebo subjects [odds ratio (OR) 1.47, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.74–2.95, one-sided P = 0.14; OR (adjusted for study visit, baseline infection status, gender and age) 2.2 (0.94–5.15); one-sided P = 0.035], providing some evidence for a potential increased incidence of geohelminth infection in subjects receiving omalizumab. Omalizumab therapy was well tolerated, and did not appear to be associated with increased morbidity attributable to intestinal helminths as assessed by clinical and laboratory adverse events, maximal helminth infection intensities and additional anthelmintic requirements. Time to first infection (OR 1.30, 95% CI 0.79–2.15, one-sided P = 0.15) was similar between treatment groups. Infection severity and response to anthelmintics appeared to be unaffected by omalizumab therapy.
In this exploratory study of allergic subjects at high risk of helminth infections, omalizumab therapy appeared to be safe and well tolerated, but may be associated with a modest increase in the incidence of geohelminth infection.
allergic rhinitis; asthma; geohelminth infections; immunoglobulin E; monoclonal antibody; omalizumab
Allergy is commoner in developed than in developing countries. Chronic worm infections show inverse associations with allergy, and prenatal exposures may be critical to allergy risk.
To determine whether anthelminthic treatment during pregnancy increases the risk of allergy in infancy.
A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial on treatment in pregnancy with albendazole versus placebo and praziquantel versus placebo was conducted in Uganda, with a 2 × 2 factorial design; 2507 women were enrolled; infants’ allergy events were recorded prospectively. The main outcome was doctor-diagnosed infantile eczema.
Worms were detected in 68% of women before treatment. Doctor-diagnosed infantile eczema incidence was 10.4/100 infant years. Maternal albendazole treatment was associated with a significantly increased risk of eczema [Cox HR (95% CI), p: 1.82 (1.26–2.64), 0.002]; this effect was slightly stronger among infants whose mothers had no albendazole-susceptible worms than among infants whose mothers had such worms, although this difference was not statistically significant. Praziquantel showed no effect overall but was associated with increased risk among infants of mothers with Schistosoma mansoni [2.65 (1.16–6.08), interaction p = 0.02]. In a sample of infants, skin prick test reactivity and allergen-specific IgE were both associated with doctor-diagnosed eczema, indicating atopic aetiology. Albendazole was also strongly associated with reported recurrent wheeze [1.58 (1.13–2.22), 0.008]; praziquantel showed no effect.
The detrimental effects of treatment suggest that exposure to maternal worm infections in utero may protect against eczema and wheeze in infancy. The results for albendazole are also consistent with a direct drug effect. Further studies are required to investigate mechanisms of these effects, possible benefits of worms or worm products in primary prevention of allergy, and the possibility that routine deworming during pregnancy may promote allergic disease in the offspring.
albendazole; praziquantel; worms; infantile eczema; pregnancy; clinical trial
Despite the national vitamin A and antihelminthic prophylaxis programmes, both intestinal geo-helminths and subclinical vitamin A deficiency continue to be prevalent among children in developing countries. Studies on potential synergistic effects of vitamin A supplementation and deworming on retinol status have inconsistent results. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the impacts of low-dose β-carotene supplementation and antihelminthic therapy on serum retinol and β-carotene concentrations in preschool children of Bangladesh. Two hundred and forty-four children, known to be infected with Ascaris lumbricoides, were randomized into four treatment groups: I-IV. Group I and II received two oral doses of 400 mg of albendazole each, the first dose at baseline and the second dose after four months; Group III and IV received placebo in place of albendazole. In addition, Group I and III received 1.2 mg of β-carotene powder in capsule daily for six months, and Group II and IV received placebo in place of β-carotene. Serum retinol and β-carotene levels were measured before and after six months of the interventions. Serum retinol and β-carotene increased significantly in Group I where both antihelminthic therapy and daily β-carotene supplementation were given (p<0.05 and p<0.001 respectively). Antihelminthic therapy alone only improved serum β-carotene concentration (p<0.0001). Low-dose β-carotene supplementation, along with an antihelminthic therapy, synergistically improved vitamin A status. This finding has public-health implications for improving vitamin A status of children in developing countries.
Albendazole; Antihelminthics; Ascariasis; Ascaris lumbricoides; β-carotene; Children; Deworming; Impact studies; Retinol; Vitamin A deficiency; Bangladesh
Deworming HIV-1 infected individuals may delay HIV-1 disease progression. It is important to determine the prevalence and correlates of HIV-1/helminth co-infection in helminth-endemic areas.
HIV-1 infected individuals (CD4>250 cells/ul) were screened for helminth infection at ten sites in Kenya. Prevalence and correlates of helminth infection were determined. A subset of individuals with soil-transmitted helminth infection was re-evaluated 12 weeks following albendazole therapy.
Of 1,541 HIV-1 seropositive individuals screened, 298 (19.3%) had detectable helminth infections. Among individuals with helminth infection, hookworm species were the most prevalent (56.3%), followed by Ascaris lumbricoides (17.1%), Trichuris trichiura (8.7%), Schistosoma mansoni (7.1%), and Stongyloides stercoralis (1.3%). Infection with multiple species occurred in 9.4% of infections. After CD4 count was controlled for, rural residence (RR 1.40, 95% CI: 1.08–1.81), having no education (RR 1.57, 95% CI: 1.07–2.30), and higher CD4 count (RR 1.36, 95% CI: 1.07–1.73) remained independently associated with risk of helminth infection. Twelve weeks following treatment with albendazole, 32% of helminth-infected individuals had detectable helminths on examination. Residence, education, and CD4 count were not associated with persistent helminth infection.
Among HIV-1 seropositive adults with CD4 counts above 250 cells/mm3 in Kenya, traditional risk factors for helminth infection, including rural residence and lack of education, were associated with co-infection, while lower CD4 counts were not.
Over one-third of people worldwide are currently infected with parasitic worms. The majority of these infections occur in sub-Saharan Africa, where over half of the population may be infected with at least one type of parasitic worm. HIV infection is also common in many of these countries, and there is significant geographic overlap in the presence of HIV and worm infection. Several studies have suggested that treatment of worm infections in people with HIV may delay the progression of HIV disease. Treatment has been shown to both decrease levels of the HIV virus in the blood of people with HIV and to increase the number of immune cells (CD4 cells) targeted by HIV. It is important to determine which populations of HIV-infected individuals are at greatest risk of worm infection in order to develop potential interventions for the treatment and prevention of worm infection in HIV-infected individuals. We report findings from a large study examining the prevalence and associated co-factors for worm infection among individuals at ten sites in Kenya.
Vaccine failure is an important concern in the tropics with many contributing elements. Among them, it has been suggested that exposure to natural infections might contribute to vaccine failure and recurrent disease outbreaks. We tested this hypothesis by examining the influence of co-infections on maternal and infant measles-specific IgG levels.
We conducted an observational analysis using samples and data that had been collected during a larger randomised controlled trial, the Entebbe Mother and Baby Study (ISRCTN32849447). For the present study, 711 pregnant women and their offspring were considered. Helminth infections including hookworm, Schistosoma mansoni and Mansonella perstans, along with HIV, malaria, and other potential confounding factors were determined in mothers during pregnancy and in their infants at age one year. Infants received their measles immunisation at age nine months. Levels of total IgG against measles were measured in mothers during pregnancy and at delivery, as well as in cord blood and from infants at age one year.
Among the 711 pregnant women studied, 66% had at least one helminth infection at enrolment, 41% had hookworm, 20% M. perstans and 19% S. mansoni. Asymptomatic malaria and HIV prevalence was 8% and 10% respectively. At enrolment, 96% of the women had measles-specific IgG levels considered protective (median 4274 mIU/ml (IQR 1784, 7767)). IgG levels in cord blood were positively correlated to maternal measles-specific IgG levels at delivery (r = 0.81, p < 0.0001). Among the infants at one year of age, median measles-specific IgG levels were markedly lower than in maternal and cord blood (median 370 mIU/ml (IQR 198, 656) p < 0.0001). In addition, only 75% of the infants had measles-specific IgG levels considered to be protective. In a multivariate regression analysis, factors associated with reduced measles-specific antibody levels in infancy were maternal malaria infection, infant malaria parasitaemia, infant HIV and infant wasting. There was no association with maternal helminth infection.
Malaria and HIV infection in mothers during pregnancy, and in their infants, along with infant malnutrition, may result in reduction of the antibody response to measles immunisation in infancy. This re-emphasises the importance of malaria and HIV control, and support for infant nutrition, as these interventions may have benefits for vaccine efficacy in tropical settings.
Infections; Co-infections; Measles; Helminth; Malaria; HIV; Maternal; Infants; Pregnancy; Immunisation
Background and Aims
The association between hygiene and prevalence of autoimmune disease has been
attributed in part to enteric helminth infection. A pilot study of
experimental infection with the hookworm Necator americanus
was undertaken among a group of otherwise healthy people with celiac disease
to test the potential of the helminth to suppress the immunopathology
induced by gluten.
In a 21-week, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study, we explored the
effects of N. americanus infection in 20 healthy,
helminth-naïve adults with celiac disease well controlled by diet.
Staged cutaneous inoculations with 10 and 5 infective 3rd stage
hookworm larvae or placebo were performed at week-0 and -12 respectively. At
week-20, a five day oral wheat challenge equivalent to 16 grams of gluten
per day was undertaken. Primary outcomes included duodenal Marsh score and
quantification of the immunodominant α-gliadin peptide (QE65)-specific
systemic interferon-γ-producing cells by ELISpot pre- and post-wheat
Enteric colonisation with hookworm established in all 10 cases, resulting in
transiently painful enteritis in 5. Chronic infection was asymptomatic, with
no effect on hemoglobin levels. Although some duodenal eosinophilia was
apparent, hookworm-infected mucosa retained a healthy appearance. In both
groups, wheat challenge caused deterioration in both primary and several
Experimental N. americanus infection proved to be safe and
enabled testing its effect on a range of measures of the human autoimmune
response. Infection imposed no obvious benefit on pathology.
Helminth infections and malaria are widespread in the tropics. Recent studies suggest helminth infections may increase susceptibility to malaria. If confirmed, this could be particularly important during pregnancy-induced immunosuppression.
To evaluate the geographical distribution of Plasmodium falciparum-helminth co-infection, and associations between parasite species in pregnant women in Entebbe, Uganda.
A cross-sectional study was conducted at baseline in a trial of anti-helminthics during pregnancy. Helminth and P.falciparum infections were quantified in 2507 asymptomatic women; socio-demographic and geographical details were recorded.
Hookworm and Mansonella perstans were associated with P.falciparum but the effect of hookworm was seen only in the absence of M.perstans (OR for P.falciparum, adjusted for age, tribe, socioeconomic status, HIV and location: hookworm without M.perstans 1.53 (95% CI 1.09-2.14); M.perstans without hookworm 2.33 (1.47-3.69), both hookworm and M.perstans, 1.85 (1.24-2.76)). No association was observed between Schistosoma mansoni, Trichuris or Strongyloides and P.falciparum.
Hookworm-P.falciparum and M.perstans-P.falciparum co-infection amongst pregnant women in Entebbe is more common than expected by chance. Further studies are needed to elucidate the mechanism of this association. Helminth-induced increased susceptibility to P.falciparum could have important consequences for pregnancy outcome and responses to malaria in infancy.
Malaria; Helminth; Hookworm; Mansonella perstans; Plasmodium falciparum; Co-Infection; Spatial; Geographic Factors; Pregnancy; Uganda
Helminth infections influence the clinical response to certain diseases and are associated with delayed healing time of patients with cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) caused by Leishmania braziliensis. We conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial to examine the role of early versus deferred treatment of intestinal helminth infection on the clinical course of patients with CL treated with pentavalent antimony. (Clinicaltrials.gov number NCT00469495). A total of 90 patients were enrolled, 51.1% (N = 23) of control patients had persistent lesions at Day 90, compared with 62.2% (N = 28) in the treatment group (difference 11.1%, 95% confidence interval = −9.1–30.0%). There was no statistically significant difference in overall time to cure between groups, although there was a tendency for shorter cure times in the control group. This study shows that early introduction of antihelminthic therapy does not improve clinical outcome in patients co-infected with helminths and L. braziliensis.
In 1994 and 2002, respectively, the World Health Organisation proposed that treatment for hookworm and schistosomiasis could be provided during pregnancy. It was hoped that this might have benefits for maternal anaemia, fetal growth and perinatal mortality; a beneficial effect on the infant response to immunisation was also hypothesised. Three trials have now been conducted. Two have examined the effects of benzimidazoles; one (the Entebbe Mother and Baby Study) the effects of albendazole and praziquantel. All three were conducted in settings of high prevalence but low intensity helminth infection. Results suggest that, in such settings and given adequate provision of haematinics, the benefit of routine anthelminthics during pregnancy for maternal anaemia may be small; none of the other expected benefits has yet been demonstrated. The Entebbe Mother and Baby Study found a significant adverse effect of albendazole on the incidence of infantile eczema in the whole study population, and of praziquantel on the incidence of eczema among infants of mothers with Schistosoma mansoni. Further studies are required in settings that differ in helminth species and infection intensities. Further research is required to determine whether increased rates of infantile eczema translate to long-term susceptibility to allergy, and to explore the underlying mechanisms of these effects. The risks and benefits of routine anthelminthic treatment in antenatal clinics may need to be reconsidered.
Anthelminthic; pregnancy; albendazole; praziquantel; hookworm; Schistosoma mansoni; atopic eczema; anaemia
To control soil-transmitted helminth (STH) infections, the World Health Organization recommends school-based deworming programs with a health hygiene education component. The effect of such health hygiene interventions, however, has not been adequately studied. The objective of the present study was to determine the effectiveness of a health hygiene education intervention on the occurrence of STH re-infection four months post-de-worming.
An open-label pair-matched cluster-randomized trial was conducted in Grade 5 schoolchildren of 18 primary schools (9 intervention and 9 control) in the Peruvian Amazon. Baseline assessment included interview with a pre-tested questionnaire and collection of single stool specimens that were examined using the single Kato-Katz thick smear. All schoolchildren were then treated with single-dose albendazole (400 mg). Schoolchildren in intervention schools then received 1) an initial one hour in-class activity on health hygiene and sanitation and 30-minute refresher activities every two weeks over four months; and 2) a half-day workshop for teachers and principals, while children in control schools did not. Four months later, STH infection was re-assessed in all schools by laboratory technologists blinded to intervention status. From April 21–October 20, 2010, a total of 1,089 schoolchildren (518 and 571 from intervention and control schools, respectively) participated in this study. Intervention children scored significantly higher on all aspects of a test of STH-related knowledge compared with control children (aOR = 18·4; 95% CI: 12·7 to 26·6). The intensity of Ascaris lumbricoides infection at follow-up was statistically significantly lower (by 58%) in children in intervention schools compared with children in control schools (aIRR = 0·42; 95% CI = 0·21 to 0·85). No significant changes in hookworm or Trichuris trichiura intensity were observed.
A school-based health hygiene education intervention was effective in increasing STH knowledge and in reducing Ascaris lumbricoides infection. The benefits of school-based periodic deworming programs are likely to be enhanced when a sustained health hygiene education intervention is integrated into school curricula.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends including a health hygiene education component into school-based deworming programs to reduce intestinal worm re-infection in treated children; however, the effect of these types of educational interventions has not been adequately studied. In this study, we investigated the effect of a health hygiene education intervention within a deworming program targeting Grade 5 schoolchildren in Bélen, Peru, a highly worm-endemic area. Following baseline assessment, all children in 18 primary schools received deworming. Subsequently, nine schools were randomly assigned to receive a health hygiene educational intervention and nine were randomly assigned to not receive the educational intervention. Four months later, children from schools that received the educational intervention were found to be more knowledgeable about the transmission and prevention of intestinal worm infections and, although there was no observed effect on whipworms or hookworms, children were also significantly less likely to be infected with roundworms. These results support the WHO recommendation for the inclusion of health hygiene education into school-based deworming programs. The beneficial effects of deworming are likely to be enhanced when appropriate health hygiene education is integrated into the school curricula.