Helminths are masterful immunoregulators. A characteristic feature of helminth infection is a Th2-dominated immune response, but stimulation of immunoregulatory cell populations, such as regulatory T cells and alternatively activated macrophages, is equally common. Typically, Th1/17 immunity is blocked and productive effector responses aremuted, allowing survival of the parasite in a “modified Th2” environment. Drug treatment to clear theworms reverses the immunoregulatory effects, indicating that a state of active suppression is maintained by the parasite. Hence, research has focussed on “excretory–secretory” products released by live parasites, which can interfere with every aspect of host immunity from initial recognition to end-stage effector mechanisms. In this review, we survey our knowledge of helminth secreted molecules, and summarise current understanding of the growing number of individual helminth mediators that have been shown to target key receptors or pathways in the mammalian immune system.
- Immune evasion