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Fasciola hepatica is a parasite that causes on average 3.2 million in losses in the agricultural sector every year worldwide. It is a two-centimeter-long worm at adult size that mainly affects ruminants by means of water or raw vegetables that act as vehicles of infection. Moveover, in developing countries with deficient sanitary control systems, more than five million people have been infected. Though it does not have high death rates, it causes liver damage and makes the host more prone to catching other diseases.
Now, for the first time, several research groups at the University of Cordoba have observed that the parasite induces an overexpression of a protein which determines whether the pathogen makes itself at home within the infected animal or not. The gene in question is FOXP3, present in a regulatory lymphocyte that interferes with the immune response of the infected organism. That is to say, a protein that sends the false message that everything is alright to the organism's defense system. According to the results of the research, from a sheep's first day of infection, this protein's genetic expression increases in the tissues in which the pathogen is circulating. This increase is no coincidence—the parasite itself, in a way, handles the task of stimulating proliferation of the gene in order to eliminate the host's immune response and survive better within the host.
Findings - Research - Scientific - Reports - One
This is one of the main findings of the research published in Scientific Reports, but certainly not the only one. In addition,...
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