Cellular immune responses to the murine nematode parasite Trichuris muris. I. Differential cytokine production during acute or chronic infection

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A variety of T-cell parameters have been analysed in two H-2 compatible strains of mice, B10.BR and BALB/K, which differ in an absolute fashion in their ability to resist infection with the parasitic nematode Trichuris muris:BALB/K mice expel T. muris relatively rapidly, whereas B10.BR mice are unable to expel the parasite before the infection reaches patency. Analysis of Th1- and Th2-specific cytokines (IFN-γ and IL-5, respectively) produced by in vitro Con A-stimulated mesenteric lymph node cells (MLNC) from infected and normal mice demonstrated that MLNC from resistant BALB/K mice produced high levels of IL-5 and low levels of IFN-γ whilst B10.BR MLNC secreted large amounts of IFN-γ in the relative absence of IL-5. As an in vivo correlate of in vitro IL-5 production, peripheral and tissue eosinophilia were quantified during the course of infection in the two strains of mice. No peripheral eosinophilia was observed in BALB/K or B10.BR individuals. However, a considerable intestinal eosinophilia was seen in the high IL-5-producing BALB/K mice compared to normal levels. Differences observed in cytokine profiles were not due to differential changes in the numbers of T cells within the MLN. Indeed, FACS analysis revealed a decrease in the relative percentage of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in both strains of mice post-infection. Our results suggest that resistance to T. muris involves the preferential induction of Th cells which secrete IL-5, whilst cells of a different Th subset (IFN-γ producing) predominate in chronically infected mice. As such, this represents the first description of a correlation between the reciprocal activation of Th cell subsets in relation to acute or chronic intestinal infection with the same parasite in the same host species.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)508-513
Number of pages5
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1991