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Title: Natural resistance to worms exacerbates bovine tuberculosis severity independently of worm coinfection

Pathogen interactions arising during coinfection can exacerbate disease severity, for example when the immune response mounted against one pathogen negatively affects defense of another. It is also possible that host immune responses to a pathogen, shaped by historical evolutionary interactions between host and pathogen, may modify host immune defenses in ways that have repercussions for other pathogens. In this case, negative interactions between two pathogens could emerge even in the absence of concurrent infection. Parasitic worms and tuberculosis (TB) are involved in one of the most geographically extensive of pathogen interactions, and during coinfection worms can exacerbate TB disease outcomes. Here, we show that in a wild mammal natural resistance to worms affects bovine tuberculosis (BTB) severity independently of active worm infection. We found that worm-resistant individuals were more likely to die of BTB than were nonresistant individuals, and their disease progressed more quickly. Anthelmintic treatment moderated, but did not eliminate, the resistance effect, and the effects of resistance and treatment were opposite and additive, with untreated, resistant individuals experiencing the highest mortality. Furthermore, resistance and anthelmintic treatment had nonoverlapping effects on BTB pathology. The effects of resistance manifested in the lungs (the primary site of BTB infection), while the more » effects of treatment manifested almost entirely in the lymph nodes (the site of disseminated disease), suggesting that resistance and active worm infection affect BTB progression via distinct mechanisms. Our findings reveal that interactions between pathogens can occur as a consequence of processes arising on very different timescales.

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Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
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Article No. e2015080118
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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