Both helminth infections and contact with allergens result in development of a Th2 type of immune response in the affected individual. In this context, the hygiene hypothesis suggests that reduced prevalence of parasitic infections and successful vaccination strategies are causative for an increase of allergies in industrialized countries. It is therefore of interest to study glycans and their role as immunogenic structures in both parasitic infections and allergies. In the present paper we review information on the different types of glycan structure present in proteins from plant and animal food, insect venom and helminth parasites, and their role as diagnostic markers. In addition, the application of these glycan structures as immunomodulators in novel immunotherapeutic strategies is discussed.

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