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Eur J Immunol. 2005 Feb;35(2):515-23.

CXCR3-/- mice mount an efficient Th1 response but fail to control Leishmania major infection.

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Department of Microbiology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio 43221, USA.


Chemokines play a critical role in recruitment of leukocytes to the site of infection, which is essential for host defense. We analyzed the role of CXC chemokine receptor 3 (CXCR3) in the control of cutaneous leishmaniasis using CXCR3-/- C57BL/6 mice. We found that Leishmania major-infected CXCR3-/- mice mount an efficient Th1 response as evident by markedly increased serum levels of Th1-associated IgG2a and significant production of IFN-gamma and IL-12 by the draining lymph node cells, restrict systemic spread of infection, but fail to control parasite replication at the site of infection and develop chronic non-healing lesions. Furthermore, the inability of CXCR3-/- mice to control cutaneous L. major growth was associated with fewer CD4+ and CD8+ T cells and significantly lower levels of IFN-gamma in their lesions as compared to CXCR3+/+ mice. These results demonstrate that CXCR3 plays a critical role in the host defense against cutaneous leishmaniasis caused by L. major. Furthermore, they also suggest that the susceptibility of CXCR3-/- mice to L. major is due to impaired CD4+ and CD8+ T cell trafficking and decreased production of IFN-gamma at the site of infection rather than to their inability to mount a parasite-specific Th1 response.

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