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Analyses of laboratory-based helminth-rodent model systems have been immensely useful in delineating the workings of the mammalian immune system. Investigations in the 1970s–1980s on the fate of the rat tapeworm, Hymenolepis diminuta, in rats and mice and the systemic and local responses evoked following infection have contributed directly to our knowledge of how permissive and non-permissive hosts respond to the challenge of infection with a helminth parasite. This convenient laboratory model system has, in the authors' opinion, regrettably received considerably less attention in recent years. With the goal of highlighting the utility of this model system, data is presented on: (1) the immune and enteric responses of rats and mice to infection with H. diminuta; (2) the ability of excretory or secretory products derived from H. diminuta to significantly reduce T cell and macrophage activation in vitro; and (3) how assessment of H. diminuta-rodent models can be used to identify immune effector or regulatory mechanisms that can be translated into novel treatments for inflammatory and autoimmune disorders.
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