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Parasite Immunol. 2002 Nov-Dec;24(11-12):499-509.

Cellular responses and cytokine profiles in Ascaris lumbricoides and Trichuris trichiura infected patients.

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Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, Centro de Pesquisas René Rachou, Laboratório de Imunologia, Avenida Augusto de Lima 1715, 30190-002 Belo Horizonte-MG, Brazil.


The impact of intestinal helminth infection, i.e. Ascaris lumbricoides and Trichuris trichiura, on cellular responsiveness and cytokine production was investigated in young adults. Ascaris-specific cellular responsiveness was higher in parasite-free endemic controls than in patients infected with T. trichiura, or A. lumbricoides, or patients co-infected with both parasites. Also, mitogen-induced tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, interleukin (IL)-12 and interferon (IFN)-gamma secretion by peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) was higher in negative endemic controls than in infected individuals. Ascaris antigen-specific production of TNF-alpha, IL-12 and IFN-gamma was low in singly Ascaris as well as in co-infected patients, whereas secretion of IL-10 and IL-13 was elevated and similarly high in all patient groups. The detection of Trichuris-specific and Ascaris-specific IgG4 revealed significantly higher serum antibody levels in Trichuris or Ascaris patients when compared to endemic controls (P < 0.05), whereas parasite-specific IgE antibody levels were similarly high in infected individuals and in endemic controls. In summary, chronically infected Ascaris and Trichuris patients with a high parasite load presented reduced cellular reactivity and lower type 1 TNF-alpha, IFN-gamma and IL-12 responses when compared with endemic controls, whereas type 2 IL-10 and IL-13 productions were similar in all groups from the endemic area. The former may support parasite persistence, whereas substantial type 2 cytokine release may promote protective immunity, suggesting an adaptation of the host to control the parasite burden while minimizing immune-mediated host self-damage.

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