1Instituto de Investigaciones Inmunológicas, Universidad de Cartagena, Cartagena, Colombia. email@example.com
A variety of links occur between parasites, particularly helminths, and allergic diseases--both common conditions of epidemiological importance in tropical regions. Although speculations are often made about the effects of parasitic diseases on the evolution of the immune system, the selective forces that have shaped the allergic response are unknown and probably include evolutionary mechanisms different to those traditionally reported. Helminths, infectious and antigenic sources that induce allergic-like responses, established themselves as parasites in organisms that already had cell groups related to the type 2 immunity. An essential component in the relationship between helminths and their hosts is that the former induce immunosuppression, creating a kind of balance that allows the survival of both. The development of this equilibrium undoubtedly includes adaptations in both organisms, and the survival of the parasite is the result of (a) acquiring immune suppressor mechanisms and (b) finding hosts with lower intensity of the type 2 response. This in turn suggests that although helminth infections have influenced the formation of type 2 immunity, they have not been an important selective force in the particular case of allergic response. The latter is more related to an exaggerated Th2/IgE response.