Pre-conception maternal helminth infection transfers via nursing long-lasting cellular immunity against helminths to offspring

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Matthew G. Darby
  • Alisha Chetty
  • Dunja Mrjden
  • Marion Rolot
  • Katherine Smith
  • Claire MacKowiak
  • Delphine Sedda
  • Donald Nyangahu
  • Heather Jaspan
  • Ari Waisman
  • Valerie Quesniaux
  • Bernhard Ryffel
  • Benjamin G. Dewals
  • Frank Brombacher

External organisations

  • Stanford University School of Medicine
  • Université de Liég
  • Cardiff University
  • University of Washington Seattle
  • Johannes Gutenberg University
  • International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology
  • South African Medical Research Council
  • University of Cape Town
  • CNRS-University of Orleans


Maternal immune transfer is the most significant source of protection from early-life infection, but whether maternal transfer of immunity by nursing permanently alters offspring immunity is poorly understood. Here, we identify maternal immune imprinting of offspring nursed by mothers who had a pre-conception helminth infection. Nursing of pups by helminth-exposed mothers transferred protective cellular immunity to these offspring against helminth infection. Enhanced control of infection was not dependent on maternal antibody. Protection associated with systemic development of protective type 2 immunity in T helper 2 (TH2) impaired IL-4Rα -/- offspring. This maternally acquired immunity was maintained into maturity and required transfer (via nursing) to the offspring of maternally derived TH2-competent CD4 T cells. Our data therefore reveal that maternal exposure to a globally prevalent source of infection before pregnancy provides long-term nursing-acquired immune benefits to offspring mediated by maternally derived pathogen-experienced lymphocytes.


Original languageEnglish
Article numbereaav3058
JournalScience Advances
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 29 May 2019