Parasitic nematodes simultaneously suppress and benefit from coccidian coinfection in their natural mouse host

Melanie Clerc, Andy Fenton, Simon Babayan, Amy Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Within-host interactions among coinfecting parasites are common and have important consequences for host health and disease dynamics. However, these within-host interactions have traditionally been studied in laboratory mouse models, which often exclude important variation and use unnatural host-parasite combinations. Conversely, the few wild studies of within-host interactions often lack knowledge of parasite exposure and infection history. Here we exposed lab-reared wood mice (Apodemus sylvaticus) that were derived from wild-caught animals to two naturally-occurring parasites (nematode: Heligmosomoides polygyrus, coccidia: Eimeria hungaryensis) to investigate the impact of coinfection on parasite infection dynamics, and to determine if the host immune response mediates this interaction. Coinfection led to delayed worm expulsion and prolonged egg shedding in H. polygyrus infections and lower peak E. hungaryensis oocyst burdens. By comparing antibody levels between wild and colony-housed mice, we also found that wild mice had elevated H. polygyrus-IgG1 titres even if currently uninfected with H. polygyrus. Using this unique wild-laboratory system, we demonstrate, for the first time, clear evidence for a reciprocal interaction between these intestinal parasites, and that there is a great discrepancy between antibody levels measured in the wild versus those measured under controlled laboratory conditions in relation to parasite infection and coinfection.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
Early online date27 Mar 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Mar 2019


  • Heligmosomoides polygyrus
  • Eimeria hungaryensis
  • coinfection
  • wild mice
  • laboratory systems

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