Acute trichinellosis increases susceptibility to Giardia lamblia infection in the mouse model

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The intestinal protozoan parasite Giardia lamblia causes diarrhoea in humans and animals. In the present study, we used the C57BL/6 inbred mouse model to assess the impact of a nematode (Trichinella spiralis) infection on the course of a G. lamblia (clone GS/M-83-H7) infection. Acute trichinellosis coincided with transient intestinal inflammation and generated an intestinal environment that strongly promoted growth of G. lamblia trophozoites although the local anti-Giardia immunoglobulin (Ig) A production was not affected. This increased G. lamblia infection intensity correlated with intestinal mast cell infiltration, mast cell degranulation, and total IgE production. Furthermore, a G. lamblia single-infection investigated in parallel also resulted in intestinal mast cell accumulation but severe infiltration was triggered in the absence of IgE. Recently, intestinal mast cells emerging during a G. lamblia infection were reported to be involved in those immunological mechanisms that control intestinal proliferation of the parasite in mice. This anti-giardial activity was assumed to be related to the capacity of mast cells to produce IL-6. However, this previous assumption was questioned by our present immunohistological findings indicating that murine intestinal mast cells, activated during a G. lamblia infection were IL-6-negative. In the present co-infection experiments, mast cells induced during acute trichinellosis were not able to control a concurrent G. lamblia infection. This observation makes it feasible that the T. spiralis infection created an immunological and physiological environment that superimposed the anti-giardial effect of mast cells and thus favoured intestinal growth of G. lamblia trophozoites in double-infected mice. Furthermore, our findings raise the possibility that intestinal inflammation e.g. as a consequence of a ‘pre-existing’ nematode infection is a factor which contributes to increased susceptibility of a host to a G. lamblia infection. The phenomenon of a ‘pre-existing’ nematode infection prior to a G. lamblia infection is a frequent constellation in endemic areas of giardiasis and may therefore have a direct impact on the epidemiological situation of the disease.

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