Phage Interaction with the Mammalian Immune System

  • Jonas D. Van Belleghem
  • Krystyna Dąbrowska
  • Mario Vaneechoutte
  • Jeremy J. Barr


The human body hosts a large number of bacteriophages (phages). Until recently, these phages were regarded as bystanders that only impacted immunity indirectly through effects on the mammalian microbiome. It has now become clear that phages also impact immunity directly. Moreover, these immune responses seem to have a tendency to be anti-inflammatory. Besides inducing an adaptive immune response via effects on antibody production and effector polarization, phage can also have direct effects on the innate immunity through phagocytosis and cytokine responses.

Current data indicates that high phage concentrations induce immune responses whereas low phage concentrations have less to none observable immune responses, this shows that a certain phage threshold is necessary to trigger an immune response.

In this chapter, we discuss the basics of mammalian immunity and elaborate how phage can interact with the mammalian and human immune system. Understand these interactions are important to further understand how these viruses could be exploited for therapeutic purposes.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jonas D. Van Belleghem
    • 1
    • 2
  • Krystyna Dąbrowska
    • 3
  • Mario Vaneechoutte
    • 1
  • Jeremy J. Barr
    • 4
  1. 1.Laboratory Bacteriology Research, Department of Clinical Chemistry, Microbiology and ImmunologyUniversity GhentGhentBelgium
  2. 2.Division of Infectious Diseases and Geographic Medicine, Department of MedicineStanford University School of MedicineStanfordUSA
  3. 3.Bacteriophage Laboratory, Institute of Immunology and Experimental TherapyPolish Academy of SciencesWrocławPoland
  4. 4.School of Biological SciencesMonash UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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