NIMR - Mbeya Medical Research Programme

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Modulation of Allergies Through Helminth Infections in South-Tanzania - MATHIS

Team

MMRC Principal Investigators: Dr. I. Kroidl, Dr. L. Maboko, Leonard Maboko (site principle investigator), Petra Clowes (study coordinator), Lilli Podola (supervisor, immunology laboratory), Felician Mgasa (lab technician, immunology), Onesmo Mgaya (lab technician, immunology) Anthony Nsojo (helminth diagnostics, EMINI laboratory), Dickens Kowuor (data department)
LMU
Inge Kroidl (principal investigator), Elmar Saathoff (epidemiologist), Michael Hoelscher

Purpose
MATHIS is focusing on helminth diseases and their influence on allergic diseases. Epidemiological studies demonstrate the protective effect of infections
during early childhood on the development of allergies and autoimmune
diseases. The decreased incidence and prevalence of allergic disorders
observed in individuals infected with parasitic helminthes supports the hypothesis
that worms might possibly play a role in suppressing allergies. Three stages of
the study have been proposed

Part 1 To determine the prevalence of allergic diseases in 5 different sites in Mbeya Region.
Part 2 To assess the effects of helminths on allergic surrogate markers by comparison of different allergen-specific IgEs in participants with and without documented helminth infection
Part 3 To measure differences in the amount of regulatory or inflammatory cells and a combination of cytokines in participants with allergies or worms and possible changes after worm treatment

Approach:
The MATHIS study is conducted within the framework of the EMINI survey, an EU funded project which was initiated in 2005 and is still ongoing. The aim of the MATHIS- Study is to assess the effects of helminth infections on allergy specific parameters in a well characterized cohort in Southwest Tanzania. In our study area we have already identified different helminth infections within the EMINI study cohort. We identified 2 sites with rare occurrence of helminth infections, and three sites with A. lumbricoides, T. trichuris, hookworm and/or S. mansoni infections.
Helminth diagnostics: Stool samples are analysed for the presence of helminth ova using the Kato Katz-technique.
Allergic surrogate markers: Specific IgE for three common allergens (house dust mite, mould, cockroach) is measured in the plasma of selected participants using the ImmunoCAP technique.
Immunologic diagnostics: Using flow cytometry on fresh blood cells the amount of different T helper cells is analyzed. TH1, TH2, Treg and TH17 cells are measured in participants who differ regarding helminth infection or allergic symptoms. After worm treatment the participants are revisited and a second blood sample is processed accordingly.

Results:
Part 1 and 2 of the MATHIS study have been conducted during 2010. Participants with and without worm infections have been selected and sera of these participants have been analyzed for the presence of allergen-specific IgE. We found significant levels of IgE against all three allergens in the different study sites. The in depth analysis of the results is still ongoing. Almost 100 of the proposed 200 participants for Part 3 have been revisited and the additional flow cytometry to analyze the different T helper subtypes have been performed.

Sponsors:
The project is funded by the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BmBF) under the supportnumber: 01KA0904.

Partners:
NIMR-Mbeya Medical Research Center in Mbeya, Tanzania and 
The Division of Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine, Medical Center of the University of Munich (LMU), Germany

Publication:
First publications are expected in 2011.