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Infect Immun. Aug 1994; 62(8): 3479–3484.
PMCID: PMC302981

Cellular responses to a 55-kilodalton recombinant Pneumocystis carinii antigen.


The host-parasite interaction in Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia is poorly understood. In recent years, two major groups of P. carinii antigens have been identified. One class of antigens is characterized by a broad band of immunoreactivity between 45 and 55 kDa in P. carinii derived from rats. This antigen complex is the P. carinii antigen most commonly found in respiratory tract specimens and most frequently recognized by the host immune response. The availability of a recombinant antigen has permitted studies focusing on the cellular and humoral responses to a single antigen within this class, p55. In this study, we have demonstrated that the p55 antigen elicits a cell-mediated immune response in animals previously exposed to P. carinii. Under conditions of natural exposure, the 5' portion of the molecule, p55(1-200), appears immunologically silent, failing to elicit lymphocyte proliferation or cytokine secretion. Following active immunization, the 5' portion is capable of stimulating lymphocyte proliferation. The 3' portion, p55(268-414), has at least one immunodominant region which contains a 7-amino-acid repeat motif. The cells responding to p55 include a CD4+ T cell which secretes a Th1 cytokine pattern. A detailed understanding of the host-parasite interaction will facilitate the development of immunoprophylaxis and immunotherapy for P. carinii infection.

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