Chitinase 3-Like 1 Protein Levels Are Elevated in Schistosoma haematobium Infected Children

L.J. Appleby, N. Nausch, C.D. Bourke, N. Rujeni, J.E. Allen, F. Mutapi, N. Midzi, T. Mduluza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Currently there are few studies characterising the nature and aetiology of human schistosome-related inflammatory processes. The aim of this study was to determine the relationship between Chitinase 3-like 1 (CHI3L1), also known as YKL-40, a molecule associated with inflammatory processes, and schistosome infection, morbidity and systemic cytokine levels. Methods: Serological levels of CHI3L1 and a panel of cytokines (IFN-y, IL-4/5/6/9/10/13 and 17) were measured in two Zimbabwean populations resident in a high and low schistosome infection area. CHI3L1 levels were related to schistosome infection, haematuria status and cytokine levels after allowing for confounding variables. The effect of antihelminthic treatment with praziquantel on CHI3L1 levels was determined in 246 participants 6 weeks post-treatment. Results: CHI3L1 levels increased with age in both areas but were significantly higher in the high infection areas compared to the low infection area. CHI3L1 levels were also higher in infected compared to uninfected individuals with this difference being significant in the youngest age group. Curative antihelminthic treatment resulted in a significant decrease in CHI3L1 levels. Of the cytokines, only IL-10 and IL-17 had a significant association with CHI3L1 levels, and this association was negative. Conclusions: Serum CHI3L1 levels differ between infected and uninfected people before and after antihelminthic treatment. The greatest difference occurs in the youngest age group, in keeping with the period when schistosome-related pathological processes are initiated. Following from previous studies in non-infectious diseases showing that CHI3L1 is a biomarker for the inflammatory process, this study suggests that the potential for CHI3L1 as a biomarker for schistosome-related pathology should be explored further.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1143
Number of pages8
JournalPLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2012


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