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WAO Medical Book Review

Posted: June 2012

Parasites and Allergy (Chemical Immunology and Allergy, Volume 90)
Edited by Monique Capron, Francois Trottein
2006 Karger
ISSN: 1660-2242
e-ISSN: 1662-2898

Retail Price: $209 US
Available from Karger

Andreea Popescu, MD
Pop de Basesti Medical Centre
Bucharest, Romania

Parasites and Allergy is an excellent overview of recent advances in understanding the complex relationship between parasitic infections and allergic conditions. The 12 chapters from international experts in the field provide an insight into the mechanisms of down-modulation of allergy by helminths, and pave the way for novel approaches in the prophylaxis and therapy of allergic and autoimmune disease.

This is a book that comprises current knowledge and new results from researchers in the field, providing a detailed description of immunological mechanisms in parasitic infections and their relevance to allergic diseases.

The book is intended for specialists and students in allergy and immunology for a better understanding of the possible protective effect of helminth infection on allergy, as well as specialists in infectious diseases with an interest in new directions of research for helminth immunization.

There have been reports of a negative association between helminth infections and inflammatory diseases like allergy, and parasitic infection could play a causal role. The contributing authors look at this hypothesis from different angles and offer supportive evidence, discussing their own research results, as well as reviewing the current scientific data. Several chapters focus on animal models of helminth infection showing possible protective effect on allergic inflammation and examining regulatory mechanisms involved, such as IL-10 production, Th2 differentiation, and dendritic cell modulation. Other contributions deal with characterization of helminth antigens, and their interaction with the host immune system. Further chapters review up-to-date knowledge of innate and adaptive immune responses to parasitic infections and the key cells involved, including basophils, mast cells, natural killer T lymphocytes, and regulatory T cells.

This is a fine compilation of studies and reviews that may support the concept that chronic helminth infections are inversely associated with allergic reactivity, and introduces exciting new possibilities of therapeutic application in the treatment or prevention of allergic disease.