Immunoendocrine profiles in neurocysticercosis patients: a clinical study in Honduras
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Neurocysticercosis (NCC) is a parasitic infection caused by the infiltration and localization of the larval stage of the tapeworm Taenia solium within the central nervous system (CNS). Clinical presentation and severity are heterogeneous and depend particularly on the age and sex of its host. A clinical study was conducted to evaluate specific endocrine and immune status changes that are associated with NCC. A total of 11 (9 female and 2 male) NCC patients were recruited and matched by sex and age with 11 healthy subjects. Evaluations for 7 hormones and 2 cytokines were measured and compared between patients and their matched controls. Compared with controls, all patients had statistically significant higher serum concentration levels of 17β-estradiol (E2), progesterone (P4), androstenedione (A4), luteinising hormone (LH), follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and interleukin-10 (IL-10). In contrast, NCC patients showed significantly lower concentrations of free testosterone (T4), and dihydrotestosterone (DHT). To our knowledge, the present study constitutes one of the first demonstrations in humans that the presence of T. solium metacestodes can modify the host microenviornment by the induction of immunoendocrine changes. In summary, the present work adds to the growing body of knowledge indicating how this parasitic infection may modulate the host for its successful establishment and survival. In addition to being “curiosity-driven”, the ultimate aim of this type of work is to provide insight into the design of new therapeutic strategies. Among these, researchers in the field envision novel treatments or vaccines with the ability to block specific parasite molecules, thereby inhibiting the cysticercus establishment in the CNS, or at least shortening its survival and improving the pathological markers associated with neurocysticercosis.