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J Infect Dis. 2001 Jun 1;183(11):1662-8. Epub 2001 Apr 27.

Early human infection with Onchocerca volvulus is associated with an enhanced parasite-specific cellular immune response.

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Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.


The immune response after early exposure to or infection with Onchocerca volvulus was investigated in an autochthonous focus caused by the migration of infected persons to a previously unaffected area in Ecuador. Peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) proliferative and cytokine responses (interferon [IFN]-gamma and interleukin [IL]-5) to filarial antigens were measured in 14 subjects with serologic evidence of exposure and in 7 subjects with evidence of dermal microfilarial DNA and were compared with responses in 43 subjects with chronic O. volvulus infections. PBMC proliferative and cytokine responses (IFN-gamma and IL-5) to parasite antigens were elevated in the early exposure/infection group, compared with those in the chronic infection group. Addition of an IL-10-neutralizing antibody to filaria antigen-stimulated cultures resulted in significantly elevated proliferative responses in the chronic infection group. The findings suggest that early exposure and early parasite patency are associated with a vigorous cellular response, but, as infections become chronic, the cellular response becomes down-regulated, partly through an IL-10-dependent mechanism.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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