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J Infect Dis. 2001 Aug 1;184(3):385-9. Epub 2001 Jul 3.

Detection of serum IgG antibodies specific for Wolbachia surface protein in rhesus monkeys infected with Brugia malayi.

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Department of Cellular Biology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA.


The mechanism of lymphedema development in individuals with lymphatic filariasis is presently poorly understood. To investigate whether Wolbachia, symbiotic bacteria living within filarial nematodes, may be involved in disease progression, Wolbachia-specific immune responses were assayed in a group of Brugia malayi-infected rhesus monkeys. Serum IgG antibodies specific for a major Wolbachia surface protein (WSP) were detected in 2 of 12 infected monkeys. It is interesting that both of these monkeys developed lymphedema after becoming amicrofilaremic. WSP-specific antibody responses were temporally associated with increases in antifilarial IgG1 antibodies as well as lymphedema development. These findings suggest that Wolbachia may be important in understanding disease caused by filarial worms.

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