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J Infect Dis. 2003 Feb 15;187(4):714-7. Epub 2003 Jan 29.

Immune responses directed against microfilariae correlate with severity of clinical onchodermatitis and treatment history.

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  • 1Tropical Medicine Research Institute, University of Khartoum, Sudan.


The induction of pathological changes in Onchocerca volvulus infections is directly related to the presence of the microfilarial stage of this filarial nematode. Patients with either of the 2 major forms of the clinical disease (i.e., asymptomatic/mild [n=12] and severe [n=16] dermatopathology) were studied. The cellular immune responses (cell proliferation) of those with severe disease were stronger (stimulation index [SI], 12.3+/-1.9) than those with mild dermatopathological effects (SI, 2.9+/-0.6) or control patients (SI, 4.5+/-0.4). Cytoadherence antibody responses were greatest (grade 4) in the clinically severe group and only weak (grades < or = 1) in the mild group or the control patients. Ivermectin treatment was followed by an increase in immune responsiveness in those with initially poor responses. Thus, the degree of dermatopathological effect is related to the host's immune response against microfilariae, and ivermectin augments such responses.

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