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J Infect Dis. 1998 Dec;178(6):1847-51.

Unresponsive CD4+ T lymphocytes from Leishmania chagasi-infected mice increase cytokine production and mediate parasite killing after blockade of B7-1/CTLA-4 molecular pathway.

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  • 1Immunobiology Program, Instituto de Biofisica Carlos Chagas Filho, Universidade Federal do Rio de Jameiro, Brazil.


Infection of BALB/c mice with Leishmania chagasi results in progressive increase of parasite burden in spleen, in spite of extensive T cell activation in situ. Explanted splenic CD4+ T cells showed decreased proliferation to anti-CD3, compared with controls, and no response to L. chagasi recombinant antigen Lcr1. Blockade of the negative costimulatory receptor CTLA-4 restored responses to anti-CD3 and induced vigorous responses to Lcr1. Blockade of B7-1, but not B7-2, also enhanced T cell responsiveness. CTLA-4 blockade completely restored activation-induced interleukin-2 secretion and increased interferon-gamma production. The effect, however, was not restricted to Th1 responses, since CTLA-4 blockade also enhanced antigen-induced interleukin-4 secretion. CTLA-4 blockade induced almost complete elimination of parasite burden in splenocyte cultures activated with anti-CD3 or Lcr1. These results indicate that CTLA-4 engagement by B7-1 plays an important role in maintaining unresponsiveness in CD4+ T cells in this model of chronic visceral leishmaniasis.

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