Antibodies and coinfection drive variation in nematode burdens in wild mice

Melanie Clerc, Godefroy Devevey, Andy Fenton, Amy B Pedersen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Coinfections with parasitic helminths and microparasites are highly common in nature and can lead to complex within-host interactions between parasite species which can cause negative health outcomes for humans, and domestic and wild animals. Many of these negative health effects worsen with increasing parasite burdens. However, even though many studies have identified several key factors that determine worm burdens across various host systems, less is known about how the immune response interacts with these factors and what the consequences are for the outcome of within-host parasite interactions. We investigated two interacting gastrointestinal parasites of wild wood mice, Heligmosomoides polygyrus (nematode) and Eimeria spp. (coccidia), in order to investigate how host demographic factors, coinfection and the host́s immune response affected parasite burdens and infection probability, and to determine what factors predict parasite-specific and total antibody levels. We found that antibody levels were the only factors that significantly influenced variation in both H. polygyrus burden and infection probability, and Eimeria spp. infection probability. Total faecal IgA was negatively associated with H. polygyrus burden and Eimeria spp. infection, whereas H. polygyrus-specific IgG1 was positively associated with H. polygyrus infection. We further found that the presence of Eimeria spp. had a negative effect on both faecal IgA and H. polygyrus-specific IgG1. Our results show that even in the context of natural demographic and immunological variation amongst individuals, we were able to decipher a role for the host humoral immune response in shaping the within-host interaction between H. polygyrus and Eimeria spp.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)785-792
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal For Parasitology
Early online date18 Jun 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Jun 2018


  • Antibodies
  • Eimeriaspp
  • Heligmosomoides polygyrus
  • Host-parasite interactions
  • Natural variation
  • Wild immunology
  • Wild wood mice


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