Somatostatin and intestinal schistosomiasis: therapeutic and neuropathological implications in host–parasite interactions
A better insight into the mechanisms regulating the human body can lead to improved knowledge of the patho-physiological processes of many diseases. New therapeutic possibilities can be devised at the level of these regulatory mechanisms. Somatostatin is one of the major regulatory hormones in the central nervous system (CNS) and digestive system. Its wide variety of activities means it is implicated in a broad range of conditions. One symptom common to both the acute and chronic stages of schistosomiasis is intestinal pathology characterized by abdominal pain, diarrhoea that is bloody in more chronic stages, nausea and fever. Some chronic patients develop severe hepatosplenic fibrosis, leading to fatal oesophageal variceal bleeding. In this review we assess the therapeutic potential of somatostatin in the treatment of intestinal pathology associated with schistosomiasis. The activity of somatostatin is mediated via binding to specific cell surface receptors. While we are making progress in studies of the expression and regulation of the different somatostatin receptors, the true role and distribution of each receptor subtype is far from fully understood. Animal models will help to define the specific role of individual receptors in physiological and pathological conditions. The regulation of receptor expression as well as receptor internalization can give us insight into the effect of exogenous somatostatin on schistosomiasis-mediated intestinal pathology, as well as its modulation by intrinsically produced somatostatin levels.