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Microbes Infect. 2001 Mar;3(3):203-13.

Lack of interferon-gamma confers impaired neutrophil granulocyte function and imparts prolonged survival of adult filarial worms in murine filariasis.

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Department of Immunology, Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine, 20359 Hamburg, Germany.


We investigated the role of IFN-gamma in host defense during murine filariasis. Using the fully permissive infection of BALB/c mice with the rodent filaria Litomosoides sigmodontis, we show that interferon (IFN)-gamma is essential for encapsulation of adult filarial worms in inflammatory nodules and for normal worm clearance. IFN-gamma knockout (KO) mice had only one third of the nodules of wild-type mice but displayed a more than twofold increase in worm burden and increased microfilaremia. Neutrophil granulocytes, but not macrophages or eosinophils, appear to directly control worm load and nodule formation. Neutrophils, which we showed earlier to be essential for the encapsulation process in the thoracic cavity, where the worms reside, were diminished at this location in IFN-gamma KO compared to wild-type mice; they also displayed strongly reduced chemotactic and phagocytic activity compared to neutrophils of controls. This argues for a distinct defect in neutrophil activation accounting for the low formation of inflammatory nodules. Tumor necrosis factor-alpha, a major neutrophil-activating cytokine expressed by macrophages in the thoracic cavity around the worms, was highly induced in wild-type but absent in KO mice. Diminished activation of neutrophils seems to be a general hallmark of IFN-gamma KO mice, since neutrophils from uninfected KO mice also showed a reduction in chemotactic and phagocytic activity when induced by casein. In conclusion, these data are the first to define an IFN-gamma-dependent immune effector mechanism in murine filarial infection, i.e. neutrophil-mediated control of the adult worm load.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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