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Int J Parasitol. 2006 Sep;36(10-11):1185-95. Epub 2006 Jun 2.

Expression of IL-4 receptor on non-bone marrow-derived cells is necessary for the timely elimination of Strongyloides venezuelensis in mice, but not for intestinal IL-4 production.

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Departmento de Parasitologia, Instituto de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Av. Antônio Carlos 6627, Campus Pampulha, Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil.


In rodents and in humans, Strongyloides infection induces an immune response which is predominantly Th2 in nature. In an attempt to understand the role of the IL-4R/STAT6 signaling pathway, the pathway activated by the Th2 cytokines IL-4 and IL-13, in the induction of protection during Strongyloides venezuelensis infection, we have carried out experiments in mice lacking the IL-4Ralpha chain. Experiments were also carried out in STAT6 (STAT6(-/-)) and IL-12-deficient (IL-12(-/-)) mice for comparison. There was enhancement of IL-13 and abolition of IFN-gamma production in the small intestine of 7 day-infected IL-12(-/-) animals but worm elimination proceeded with very similar kinetics to those of wild-type mice. In IL-4Ralpha- or STAT6-deficient mice, there was a delay in parasite elimination and a large number of S. venezuelensis adult worms was still present in the small intestine 14 days after infection. Moreover, IgE production was completely abolished in IL-4Ralpha- or STAT6-deficient mice but tissue eosinophilia was normally induced by the parasite infection in deficient mice. Bone marrow transfer experiments showed that worm elimination occurred when a functional IL-4 receptor was present only in non-bone marrow-derived cells but not when IL-4R was only expressed in bone marrow cells. The induction of IL-4, but not IL-13, occurred independently of IL-4R. We believe these results are the first direct evidence that the mechanism responsible for the timely elimination of S. venezuelensis is dependent on the activation of IL-4R and STAT6. Moreover, a functional protective response is dependent on the expression of IL-4Ralpha on non-bone marrow-derived cells.

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