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There is much debate about the interaction between helminths and allergic disease. The “Hygiene Hypothesis,” a very popular concept among scientists and the lay public, states that infections, especially during childhood, can protect against allergic diseases. Indeed, helminth infections are known to induce regulatory responses in the host that can help the control of inflammation (including allergic inflammation). However, these infections also induce type-2-associated immune responses including helminth-specific IgE that can cross-react against environmental allergens and mediate IgE-driven effector responses. Thus, it is the delicate balance between the parasites' anti- and pro-allergenic effects that define the helminth/allergy interface.
Financial support: This work was supported, in part, by the Division of Intramural Research (DIR), National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), the Conselho Nacional de Pesquisa (CNPq), and the Fundação de Amparo a Pesquisa de Minas Gerais (Fapemig).
Authors' addresses: Helton C. Santiago, Departamento de Bioquímica e Imunologia, Instituto de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thomas B. Nutman, Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, E-mail: email@example.com.