Another sigh comes out of the functional medicine community as Technical University of Munich researchers announce research that simultaneous infections with liver flukes and H. pylori modulate the diseases in comparison to having either infection alone. Why do we sigh? Simply because we already knew that parasites and bacteria such as Lyme can interact in our patients. On the flip side, we usually see synergism that worsens the diseases, but still agree that when our bodies are responding to multiple simultaneous invaders, our immune systems respond differently than to single invaders.
For this study, they found that the Schistosoma liver flukes attracted more immune T cells to the liver and away from the stomach. In an H. pylori infection without the flukes, these T cells play a role in the formation of ulcers. When they are called away to the liver, few ulcers form.
First, no, we are not going to treat H. pylori with a fluke infestation. The flukes cause their own issues like liver cirrhosis for one thing. However, using models like these to understand how immune cytokines (chemical messengers) and immune cells interact and handle such infections may lead to better therapies. On the down side, I am not as excited about the researchers goals of developing better vaccines. Maybe it will be help prevent some liver disease from flukes, but still not excited about more vaccines.
While this research continues, we will continue to consider parasites as reservoirs of Lyme bacteria or other chronic infections in our patients. Not everyone needs a parasite “cleanse” but some do need anti-parasitic therapy in order to overcome Lyme. Just another part of helping patients restore a healthier more abundant life.
Sonakshi Bhattacharjee, Raquel Mejías-Luque, Eva Loffredo-Verde, Albulena Toska, Michael Flossdorf, Markus Gerhard, Clarissa Prazeres da Costa. Concomitant Infection of S. mansoni and H. pylori Promotes Promiscuity of Antigen-Experienced Cells and Primes the Liver for a Lower Fibrotic Response. Cell Reports, 2019; 28 (1): 231 DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2019.05.108
Thanks to Science Daily:
Technical University of Munich (TUM). “Interactions between bacteria and parasites: Blood flukes and Helicobacter pylori: co-infection changes immune response.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 September 2019. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/09/190918122504.htm>.