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Infect Immun. 2000 May;68(5):2513-7.

Interleukin-5 is essential for vaccine-mediated immunity but not innate resistance to a filarial parasite.

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  • 1Institute of Cell, Animal and Population Biology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH9 3JT, United Kingdom.


The study of protective immune mechanisms effective against filarial nematodes has been hampered by the inability of these important human pathogens to infect laboratory mice. Recently, Litomosoides sigmodontis, a natural parasite of rats, has been developed as a valuable model for the study of filarial infection. BALB/c mice are fully susceptible to infection with L. sigmodontis third-stage larvae and develop patent infection. In contrast, mice on the C57BL background are resistant, and parasites undergo only a single molt and do not mature to adulthood. We used interleukin-5 (IL-5)-deficient mice on the C57BL/6 background to address the role of IL-5 and eosinophils in the innate resistance of C57BL/6 mice. We found no differences in parasite survival between IL-5-deficient and C57BL/6 mice. However, when these mice were used for the analysis of vaccine-mediated immunity, a critical role for IL-5 was elucidated. Mice genetically deficient in IL-5 were unable to generate a protective immune response when vaccinated with irradiated larvae, whereas C57BL/6 mice were fully protected from challenge infection. These studies help to clarify the highly controversial role of eosinophils in filarial infection.

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