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J Infect Dis. 1995 Mar;171(3):652-8.

Immunity to onchocerciasis: putative immune persons produce a Th1-like response to Onchocerca volvulus.

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  • 1Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892.


Immunity to Onchocerca volvulus (Ov) infection is suggested by the presence of putatively immune (PI) subjects in a region of Ecuador in which Ov is endemic. PI subjects were identified by traditional diagnostic methods combined with a polymerase chain reaction-based assay for Ov DNA in skin snips. Responses of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from the PI group (n = 16) were compared with those of persons with active infection (microfiladermic [MF] subjects; n = 51). PBMC of PI subjects proliferated significantly more to Ov antigen (OvAg; P < .009) than did PBMC of MF persons but less to streptolysin-O (P < .001). Cytokine analysis of PBMC culture supernatants revealed that PI subjects (n = 11) produced significantly more interferon-gamma to OvAg than did those in the MF group (n = 18; P = .018), less interleukin (IL)-5 to nonparasite antigen (P = .003) and mitogen (P = .012), and less IL-10 spontaneously (P = .016). Thus, immunity to Ov may in part be mediated by an antigen-specific Th1-type response.

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