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Clin Exp Immunol. 2002 Jun;128(3):421-8.

Differential susceptibility to acute Trypanosoma cruzi infection in BALB/c and C57BL/6 mice is not associated with a distinct parasite load but cytokine abnormalities.

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  • 1Instituto de Inmunologia, Facultad de Ciencias Médicas de Rosario, Argentina.


Inoculation of Trypanosoma cruzi, Tulahuén strain, into C57BL/6 and BALB/c mice led to an acute infection characterized by marked parasitaemia, myocardial inflammation and thymocyte depletion. While C57BL/6 mice showed a progressive and lethal disease, BALB/c mice partly recovered. To characterize these murine models more effectively, we studied the parasite burden, serum levels of major infection outcome-related cytokines, the in vitro features of T. cruzi infection in peritoneal macrophages and the immunophenotype of thymic cells. The greater disease severity of T. cruzi-infected C57BL/6 mice was not linked to an increased parasite load, as parasitaemia, myocardial parasite nests and amastigote counts in peritoneal macrophages were not different from those in BALB/c mice. Cortical thymocyte loss was accompanied by the presence of apoptotic bodies and fragmented nuclear DNA, whereas fluorocytometric analysis at 17 days postinfection (p.i.) revealed a more pronounced loss of CD4+ CD8+ cells in C57BL/6 mice. This group displayed higher levels of TNF-alpha on days 14 and 21 p.i., in the presence of lower IL-1beta and IL-10 concentrations by days 14 and 21, and days 7 and 14 p.i., respectively. Day-21 evaluation showed higher concentrations of nitrate and TNF-alpha soluble receptors in C57BL/6 mice with no differences in IFN-gamma levels, with respect to the BALB/c group. Increased morbidity of C57BL/6 T. cruzi-infected mice does not seem to result from an aggravated infection but from an unbalanced relationship between pro- and anti-inflammatory mediators.

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