Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Immunology

Parasite promotes gut health

Infection by certain intestinal worms may help to foster the growth of bacteria that protect against gut inflammation.

Mutations in the NOD2 gene are linked to an inflammatory bowel disease called Crohn's. In mice lacking this gene, researchers discovered that introducing parasitic helminths to the gut helped to reverse cellular defects in the small intestine and reduce inflammation. Ken Cadwell at the New York University School of Medicine and his colleagues found that the worms promoted the growth of Clostridiales bacteria, which suppressed inflammation-causing Bacteroidales microbes in the gut. The researchers also observed a similar protective balance of intestinal microbes in people from rural areas (where helminth infections are relatively common), which was not seen in people from urban regions.

The results support the hygiene hypothesis, which says that a 'cleaner' microbial environment has made some people more susceptible to inflammatory disorders.

Science http://doi.org/bfc6 (2016)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Parasite promotes gut health. Nature 532, 284 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/532284c

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/532284c

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing