Association of deworming with reduced eosinophilia: implications of HIV/AIDS and co-endemic diseases
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Eosinophil counts in venous blood were monitored during a randomized controlled deworming trial (n = 155 children) that lasted for a year, and in a whole-school deworming programme (range 174-256 children) of 2 years' duration. Mean eosinophil counts (×109 / l) decreased from 0.70 in the randomized trial, and 0.61 in the whole-school study, to well within the normal paediatric range of 0.05-0.45 (P < 0.05). The prevalence of eosinophilia declined from 57% to 37% in the randomized trial (mean for 400, 800 and 1200 mg albendazole doses); and from 47% to 24% in the whole-school study (500 mg stat mebendazole). Benzimidazole anthelminthics were highly effective against Ascaris but less so against Trichuris. Activated eosinophils are effector and immunoregulatory leucocytes of the T-helper cell type 2 (Th2) immune response to parasitic helminths and atopic disorders. Under conditions of poverty where soil-transmitted helminths are hyperendemic, Th2 polarization of the immune profile is characteristic. Regular anthelminthic treatment should reduce contact with worm antigens, and this may contribute to re-balancing of the immune profile. Suppression of eosinophil recruitment and activation, together with related cellular and molecular immunological changes, might have positive implications for prevention and treatment of co-endemic diseases, including HIV / AIDS, cholera, tuberculosis and atopic disorders..
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