Polyclonal and Specific Antibodies Mediate Protective Immunity against Enteric Helminth Infection

Kathy D. McCoy, Maaike Stoel, Rebecca Stettler, Patrick Merky, Katja Fink, Beatrice M. Senn, Corinne Schaer, Joanna Massacand, Bernhard Odermatt, Hans C. Oettgen, Rolf M. Zinkernagel, Nicolaas A. Bos, Hans Hengartner, Andrew J. Macpherson, Nicola L. Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

139 Citations (Scopus)


Anti-helminth immunity involves CD4+ T cells, yet the precise effector mechanisms responsible for parasite killing or expulsion remain elusive. We now report an essential role for antibodies in mediating immunity against the enteric helminth Heligmosomoides polygyrus (Hp), a natural murine parasite that establishes chronic infection. Polyclonal IgG antibodies, present in naive mice and produced following Hp infection, functioned to limit egg production by adult parasites. Comparatively, affinity-matured parasite-specific IgG and IgA antibodies that developed only after multiple infections were required to prevent adult worm development. These data reveal complementary roles for polyclonal and affinity-matured parasite-specific antibodies in preventing enteric helminth infection by limiting parasite fecundity and providing immune protection against reinfection, respectively. We propose that parasite-induced polyclonal antibodies play a dual role, whereby the parasite is allowed to establish chronicity, while parasite load and spread are limited, likely reflecting the long coevolution of helminth parasites with their hosts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)362-373
Number of pages12
JournalCell Host & Microbe
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 16 Oct 2008
Externally publishedYes



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