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Vet Immunol Immunopathol. 2008 Mar 15;122(1-2):138-45. doi: 10.1016/j.vetimm.2007.11.002. Epub 2007 Nov 9.

Characterization of a galectin-like activity from the parasitic nematode, Haemonchus contortus, which modulates ovine eosinophil migration in vitro.

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Moredun Research Institute, Pentlands Science Park, Bush Loan, Penicuik EH26 0PZ, Scotland, UK.


The development of eosinophilia is a characteristic feature of helminth infection, although the exact nature of the interaction between eosinophils and parasites remains to be fully defined. Previously, it has been reported that Haemonchus contortus and other nematodes produce eosinophil-specific chemoattractants. This paper describes studies aimed at isolating and identifying the factor(s) responsible. Initial studies showed that soluble extracts of infective larvae (L3) of H. contortus provoked a chemokinetic, rather than chemotactic, response in ovine bone marrow eosinophils in vitro. This activity was inhibited by lactose to a markedly greater extent than sucrose suggesting a galectin-like identity. Lactose affinity chromatography of soluble H. contortus extracts resulted in the isolation a specific bound fraction which retained biological activity. SDS-PAGE gel electrophoresis indicated a single Coomassie-stained band at between 31 and 41kDa. Subsequent, mass spectrometric analysis confirmed that the bound fraction contained a mixture of nematode galectins. The results confirm that H. contortus larvae produce several galectin-like proteins, at least one of which demonstrates eosinophil chemokinetic activity in vitro. The possibility of the parasite-derived factor mimicking the mammalian galectin-9, a known eosinophil chemokine, is discussed.

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