Journal: Cell Host & Microbe
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How tapeworms in the intestines can make a vaginal infection worse
© KATERYNA KON/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Science Photo Library/Getty Images
A mechanism by which intestinal worm infections can compound vaginal infection by the herpes simplex virus-2 (HSV-2) has been uncovered in mice.
Parasitic worms known as helminths infect the intestines rather than the vagina, but helminth infections have been associated with more severe HSV-2 symptoms in women. This is especially problematic in places like sub-Saharan Africa, where both infections are common.
Now, a team led by researchers from the University of Cape Town has identified a mechanism in mice that can explain how an helminth infection can make an HSV-2 infection worse despite occurring in a different organ.
They observed that helminth infections in mice increased the accumulation of disease-fighting white blood cells known as eosinophils in the vagina. This in turn enhanced scarring in the vagina on HSV-2 infection.
The team are looking for drugs that may be able to counteract this interaction between infections.
- Cell Host & Microbe 29, 579–593 (2021). doi: 10.1016/j.chom.2021.02.004