Research Article

The immune response to and immunomodulation by Hymenolepis diminuta


a1 Gastrointestinal Research Group, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Calvin, Phoebe and Joan Snyder Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation, Univeristy of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada


Analyses of laboratory-based helminth-rodent model systems have been immensely useful in delineating the workings of the mammalian immune system. Investigations in the 1970s–1980s on the fate of the rat tapeworm, Hymenolepis diminuta, in rats and mice and the systemic and local responses evoked following infection have contributed directly to our knowledge of how permissive and non-permissive hosts respond to the challenge of infection with a helminth parasite. This convenient laboratory model system has, in the authors' opinion, regrettably received considerably less attention in recent years. With the goal of highlighting the utility of this model system, data is presented on: (1) the immune and enteric responses of rats and mice to infection with H. diminuta; (2) the ability of excretory or secretory products derived from H. diminuta to significantly reduce T cell and macrophage activation in vitro; and (3) how assessment of H. diminuta-rodent models can be used to identify immune effector or regulatory mechanisms that can be translated into novel treatments for inflammatory and autoimmune disorders.

(Received May 29 2009)

(Revised June 30 2009)

(Accepted June 30 2009)

(Online publication August 20 2009)


c1 Corresponding author: Derek M. McKay, PhD., GIRG, HSC 1717, Univeristy of Calgary, 3330 Hospital Drive NW, Calgary, Alberta Canada, T2N 4N1. Tel: (403)-220-7362. Fax: (403)-283-3028. Email: