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Parasitol Today. 1992 Dec;8(12):422-6.

Cytokines, free radicals and resistance to Eimeria.

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Division of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, School of Life Sciences, Australian National University, GPO Box 4, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.


The cytokine, gamma-interferon (IFN-gamma), which is produced by CD4(+) T cells, plays a crucial role in host resistance to Eimeria infections. Karen Ovington and Nick Smith propose that free oxygen radical generation by leukocytes in response to infection with Eimeria is the result of activation by IFN-gamma. The functional role of free oxygen radicals is unclear but these highly reactive radicals are produced by the leukocytes that infiltrate the intestine in large numbers during infection, and the parasites,enterocytes and cells of the immune system may all be vulnerable to oxidative damage. Gamma-interferon also appears to induce the enterocytes inhabited by Eimeria to turn against the parasite. The authors draw from literature documenting similar effects on other protozoa, especially Leishmania and Plasmodium, and speculate that reactive nitrogen intermediates produced by enterocytes have a functional role in resistance to Eimeria.

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