The host’s hormonal environment determines the susceptibility, the course, and severity of several parasite infections. In most cases the infection disturbs the host environment, and activates immune responses that end up affecting the endocrine system. In the other hand, a number of reports indicate that parasites have reproductive systems, and some others have shown that these organisms synthetize sex steroid hormones. We have shown that cysticerci, the larval stage of Taenia solium and Taenia crassiceps ORF and WFU, synthesize steroid hormones. This capacity was modified by drugs that act inhibiting the steroid synthesizing enzymes, or blocking the parasite’s hormone receptors. We have also shown that the cysticerci of T. crassiceps WFU and T. solium have the capacity to synthesize corticosteroids as deoxicorticosterone and corticosterone. We also reviewed the effects of insulin on these parasites, and the receptors found for this hormone. A deep knowledge of the parasite’s endocrine properties will contribute to understand their reproduction and the reciprocal interactions with the host. Likewise, may also help designing tools to combat the infection in clinical situations.
Part of the book: Current State of the Art in Cysticercosis and Neurocysticercosis