BACKGROUND: Eosinophils are a prominent cell type in the host response to helminths, and some evidence suggests that neutrophils might also play a role. However, little is known about the activation status of these granulocytes during helminth infection. METHODS: We analyzed the expression of eosinophil and neutrophil activation markers in peripheral blood by flow cytometry and measured serum levels of eosinophil granule proteins in 300 subjects residing in an area endemic for soil-transmitted helminths (STH). The data generated are on samples before and after 1 year of 3-monthly albendazole treatment. RESULTS: Anthelmintic treatment significantly reduced the prevalence of STH. While eosinophil numbers were significantly higher in STH-infected compared to uninfected subjects and significantly decreased following albendazole treatment, there was no effect exerted by the helminths on either eosinophil nor neutrophil activation. Although at baseline eosinophil granule protein levels were not different between STH-infected and uninfected subjects, treatment significantly reduced the levels of eosinophil-derived neurotoxin (EDN) in those infected at baseline. CONCLUSIONS: These results show that besides decreasing eosinophil numbers, anthelmintic treatment does not significantly change the activation status of eosinophils, nor of neutrophils, and the only effect seen was a reduction in circulating levels of EDN. CLINICAL TRIALS REGISTRATION: http://www.isrctn.com/ISRCTN75636394.
- activation markers
- granular proteins