Weight loss following infection with intestinal worms is the body’s way of fighting off the parasites, scientists have discovered.
University of Manchester researchers in a study of mice found the immune system hijacks a hormone that controls when to stop eating.
This then triggers the type of immune response needed to expel the worms from the gut, the BBC News reported.
The finding could lead to new ways to treat people with intestinal worms, researchers believe.
It has long been known that these infections often result in a period of reduced appetite and weight loss but why or how this happens was not understood.
Author of the new study Dr John Worthington said that the researchers had looked at only one type of parasitic worm but were now doing tests to see if the same response was produced in response to other worms.