Parasite glycans and antibody-mediated immune responses in Schistosoma infection


Schistosome infections in humans are characterized by the development of chronic disease and high re-infection rates after treatment due to the slow development of immunity. It appears that anti-schistosome antibodies are at least partially mediating protective mechanisms. Efforts to develop a vaccine based on immunization with surface-exposed or secreted larval or worm proteins are ongoing. Schistosomes also express a large number of glycans as part of their glycoprotein and glycolipid repertoire, and antibody responses to those glycans are mounted by the infected host. This observation raises the question if glycans might also form novel vaccine targets for immune intervention in schistosomiasis. This review summarizes current knowledge of antibody responses and immunity in experimental and natural infections with Schistosoma, the expression profiles of schistosome glycans (the glycome), and antibody responses to individual antigenic glycan motifs. Future directions to study anti-glycan responses in schistosomiasis in more detail in order to address more precisely the possible role of glycans in antibody-mediated immunity are discussed.