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Summary In recent years, cases of severe morbidity (fibrosis, haematemesis, hepatosplenomegaly, ascites) caused to Schistosoma mansoni infections are on the rise in Northern Senegal. The neuropeptide somatostatin is reported to decrease portal pressure, control variceal bleeding and fibrosis, and reduce Schistosoma-caused clinical morbidity in the rodent model. The aim of this study was to delineate the role of somatostatin in S. mansoni-caused pathogenesis, by studying host levels of somatostatin in the peripheral blood of uninfected and S. mansoni-infected individuals. Subjects from the district dispensary at Richard Toll, in the Medical Region of Saint-Louis, Senegal, infected with S. mansoni and suffering from severe morbidity were selected. A separate group consisted of individuals resident in the same region but uninfected at the time of the study. Significantly lower somatostatin levels were detected in severe morbidity patients, compared with the exposed but uninfected subjects. In patients with schistosomiasis physiological levels of somatostatin may determine disposition of particular individuals towards severe morbidity, as opposed to others. Host pathology can thus be alleviated by the therapeutic ability of somatostatin to treat bleeding oesophageal varices, reduce portal pressure and prevent progression to severe fibrosis.