1Department of Anthropology, University of Colorado Colorado Springs, 2Department of Anthropology, Dartmouth College, 3Department of Anthropology, Northern Arizona University, 4Department of Anthropology, Baylor University, 5Department of Anthropology, Queens College (CUNY), 6Department of Anthropology, University of Oregon
April 16, 2020 , Platinum Ballroom
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is rare among subsistence populations; it has been hypothesized that soil-transmitted helminths (STHs) reduce CVD-risk in these populations by regulating immune-function and directly consuming blood lipids/glucose. Here, we test relationships between current STH infection and markers of cardiovascular/metabolic health among 205 Shuar adults (89 men, 116 women; ages ≥ 15 years). Ascaris lumbricoides and Trichuris trichiura were detected via microscopy in stool samples using Kato-Katz thick smears. Markers of cardiovascular/metabolic health measured from finger-prick blood samples include total cholesterol, high- and low-density lipoprotein (HDL; LDL) cholesterol, triglycerides, and fasted glucose. Blood pressure was assessed via automatic blood pressure monitor. Sex-specific analysis of covariance tests (controlling for age/body mass) compared health markers by infection type. Unexpectedly, some cardiovascular/metabolic measures were elevated among infected individuals. Men who were singly infected with Ascaris had higher LDL cholesterol than uninfected men (p = 0.005) and men singly infected with Trichuris (p = 0.029). Coinfected women had higher LDL cholesterol than uninfected women (p = 0.004) and women singly infected with Ascaris (p = 0.008). Coinfected men had higher glucose levels than uninfected men (p = 0.001) and men singly infected with either species (p < 0.01). These findings indicate a double-burden of chronic and infectious diseases associated with economic development. We examine these relationships in conjunction with biomarkers of long-term macroparasite infection (Immunoglobulin E) and inflammation (C-reactive protein), as well as lifestyle factors (house construction, water source), to determine if immune responses to STHs mediate CVD-risk related to lifestyle transitions.
Support: Wenner-Gren Foundation; NSF DDIG (BCS-134-1165, BCS-0824602, BCS-1650674, BCS-0925910), IBSS (1329091), GRFP (2011109300); American Philosophical Society Lewis and Clark Fund; Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund; Leakey Foundation; University of Oregon.