Parasites are aggregated, but how are contaminants distributed among the hosts? And why does it matter?
A recent paper by André Morrill, Jenn Provencher and myself recently asked and partially answered these questions. We reviewed the literature over 23 years to show that interest in the combined effects of contaminants and parasites on host health was increasing exponentially.
In actual fact, the studies were of three main types: one type was the extent to which parasites bio-magnify the contaminants of their hosts. This effect of such parasites on contaminant burdens in hosts may well have host health effects. Much to build on there! Why parasites (typically intestinal helminthes are studied) even do such a thing is fascinating?
There has been some intriguing research on the potential links between peanut allergies and antibiotic use early in life. Two labs in the United States appear foremost in this research area. One is at the University of Chicago and the other is at New York University. The work by Dr. Nagler and her team have shown that the removal of Clostridia bacteria might be responsible for sensitization to peanut allergen, in a mouse model. Mice models are useful because researchers can document clinical signs of allergy. But the interesting result was that the presence of the Clostridia bacteria appears responsible for gut inflammation that reduces the rate at which the peanut allergen is absorbed into the blood. Other research by Dr. Blaser (Missing microbes fame) at NYU is suggesting that missing microbes may be important in several health issues (rogue bacteria, food allergies). These are exciting directions for future research.
Professor & student