, Volume 73, Issue 5, pp 387-410

Heterologous antagonistic and synergistic interactions between helminths and between helminths and protozoans in concurrent experimental infection of mammalian hosts

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Experimental concurrent infection with two or more parasite species in mammalian host models may result in heterologous antagonistic and synergistic interactions ranging in magnitude from reduced/enhanced growth and fecundity to blockage/enhancement of establishment/expulsion. With some exceptions only, there is a reasonable correlation between the levels of interaction monitored by parasitological and by clinico-pathological parameters. Heterologous antagonistic interactions mediated by functional and specific immunological cross-reactivity occur between closely related parasite species exhibiting a marked immunobiological similarity. In contrast, antagonistic interactions between antigenetically more remote species of helminths, protozoan-induced resistance to helminth infection and helminth-induced suppression of concurrent protozoan infection generally appear mediated by immunologically non-specific factors like macrophage activation and inflammatory reactions. Synergistic heterologous interactions between helminths, helminth-induced enhancement of concurrent protozoan infection and interference with the development and maintenance of resistance to helminth infection in response to concurrent protozoan infection are generally thought to be mediated by non-specific parasite-induced immunosuppression. Concurrent experimental infection is very complex. There are problems and limitations in extrapolating from experimental studies on concurrent infection in laboratory animals to natural polyparasitism. This fact, coupled with the complex influence of ecological factors on the pattern and frequency of concurrent natural infection means that major consequences of natural concurrent parasite infection have not been definitively demonstrated. Appropriately planned and controlled field studies and further laboratory experiments on primate and domestic animal models are imperative for elucidation of the importance of heterologous interactions in concurrent parasite infection for the disease pattern in man and domestic stock. Experimental studies hitherto conducted on concurrent parasite infection pointing to natural heterologous interactions may be a valuable starting point for further studies.