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Cinzia Cantacessi

Gastrointestinal helminths, host-parasite interactions, high-throughput sequencing technologies

Our research interests fall within the general area of host-parasite interactions, and specifically the ability of gastrointestinal (GI) helminth parasites to modify the structure and function of the host gut flora to their advantage. In particular, our research focuses on identifying the immune-molecular mechanisms that underpin the observed changes in microbiota make-up of helminth-infected humans and animals. The consequences that elucidating such mechanisms may exert on future strategies of parasite control are two-fold. First, disentangling the potential contribution of the gut flora to the pathogenesis of the infection is necessary in order to discover and develop new strategies to contrast helminth-associated pathology. Second, understanding the microbiota-dependent mechanisms by which parasitic helminths are able to modulate host immune responses and suppress inflammation may assist the discovery of novel immune-regulatory therapeutics against chronic inflammatory disorders of the GI tract that may act in synergy with helminth-based therapy.

Key Publications

Google Scholar - list of all publications 

Helminth microbiomes – a hidden treasure trove? Jenkins T.P., Brindley P.J., Gasser R.B., Cantacessi C., 2019: Trends in Parasitology, 35: 13-22.

Schistosoma mansoni infection is associated with quantitative and qualitative modifications of the mammalian intestinal microbiota. Scientific Reports
Jenkins T.P., Peachey L.E., Ajami N.J., MacDonald A.S., Hsieh M.H., Brindley P.J., Rinaldi G., Cantacessi C., 2018: 8(1): 12072.

Classic models for new perspectives: delving into helminth-microbiota-immune system interactions. Cortés A., Toledo R., Cantacessi C., Trends in Prasitology 2018:, 34(8): 640-654.

The relationships between faecal egg counts and gut microbial composition in UK Thoroughbreds infected by cyathostomins. Peachey L.E., Molena R.A., Jenkins T.P., Di Cesare A., Traversa D., Hodgkinson J.E., Cantacessi C., 2018:  International Journal for Parasitology, 48(6): 403-12.

Giacomin P., Zakrzewski M., Jenkins T.P., Su X., Al-Hallaf R., Croese J., de Vries S., Grant A., Mitreva M., Loukas A., Krause L., Cantacessi C., 2016: Changes in duodenal tissue-associated microbiota following hookworm infection and consecutive gluten challenges in humans with coeliac disease. Scientific Reports, 6: 36797.

Gastropod-borne helminths: a look at the snail-parasite interplay. Cantacessi C., Giannelli A., Colella V., Dantas-Torres F., Otranto D., 2016:  Trends in Parasitology, in press. 

Carcinogenic liver fluke secretes extracellular vesicles that promote cholangiocytes to adopt a tumorigenic phenotype. Chaiyadet S., Sotillo J., Smout M., Cantacessi C., Jones M.K., Johnson M.S., Turnbull L., Whitchurch C.B., Potriquet J., Laohaviroj M., Mulvenna J., Brindley P., Bethony J.M., Laha T., Sripa B., Loukas A., 2015:  Journal of Infectious Diseases, 212: 1636-45. 

The role of wild canids and felids in spreading parasites to dogs and cats in Europe. Part I: Protozoa. Otranto D., Cantacessi C., Pfeffer M., Dantas-Torres F., Brianti E., Deplazes P., Genchi C., Guberti V., Capelli G., 2015:Veterinary Parasitology, 213: 12-23. []

The role of wild canids and felids in spreading parasites to dogs and cats in Europe. Part II: Helminths and arthropods.  Otranto D., Cantacessi C., Dantas-Torres F., Brianti E., Pfeffer M., Genchi C., Guberti V., Capelli G., Deplazes P., 2015:  Veterinary Parasitology, 213: 24-37. 

Experimental hookworm infection and escalating gluten challenges are associated with increased microbial richness in celiac subjects. Giacomin P., Zakrzewski M., Croese J., Su X., Sotillo J., McCann L., Navarro S., Mitreva M., Krause L., Loukas A., Cantacessi C., 2015:  Scientific Reports, 5: 13797. 

Cinzia Cantacessi 

Dr Cinzia Cantacessi

Reader in Parasite Infection Biology

Group members: Dr Laura Peachey, Fabio Formenti, James Rooney

    Plain English

    Gastrointestinal parasites exact an enormous toll on the health and welfare of human populations in developing countries while, in developed countries, deliberate infections by parasites are being explored as an alternative therapeutic strategy against a range of chronic inflammatory disorders, such as inflammatory bowel disease, coeliac disease and multiple sclerosis. Understanding the intimate molecular mechanisms that govern the relationships between parasites and their vertebrate hosts is of paramount importance to identify pathogens' 'Achille's heels' to test as targets for novel interventions, as well as to gain a thorough understanding of the ability of parasites to suppress exacerbated immune responses.


    Isaac Newton Trust,


    Boehringer Ingelheim

    Cinzia is currently accepting PhD student applications