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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2008 Aug;52(8):2780-6. doi: 10.1128/AAC.00173-08. Epub 2008 Jun 2.

Effect of chemotherapy with praziquantel on the production of cytokines and morbidity associated with schistosomiasis mansoni.

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Núcleo de Pesquisa em Imunologia, Universidade Vale do Rio Doce, Rua Israel Pinheiro, 2000, Universitário, Governador Valadares, MG 35020-220, Brazil.


The objective of the present study was to test the hypothesis that treatment of schistosomiasis mansoni with praziquantel can alter significantly the immune response of patients and generate a reversal of the level of fibrosis. Peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) samples were collected from, and abdominal ultrasound examinations conducted on, volunteers infected with Schistosoma mansoni and living in an area where the disease is endemic, both prior to and one year after treatment with praziquantel. Subjects were classified into groups according to the level of pathology (i.e., absent, incipient, moderate, or severe fibrosis). PBMCs were stimulated with schistosome soluble egg antigens (SEA), and the levels of production of the cytokines gamma interferon (IFN-gamma), tumor necrosis factor alpha, transforming growth factor beta, and interleukin-4 (IL-4), IL-10, and IL-13 were determined. The chemotherapy was effective in reducing morbidity, particularly for individuals presenting with severe fibrosis. When levels of cytokine production in posttreatment PBMC cultures stimulated by SEA were categorized as low or high, significant differences in the distribution of IL-13 levels between groups presenting with or not presenting with fibrosis were established. Comparison of pre- and posttreatment SEA-induced cytokine levels in individuals who had experienced no change in the grade of fibrosis following chemotherapy revealed that the level of IFN-gamma decreased in subjects with fibrosis whereas that of IL-10 decreased in individuals with and without fibrosis. The data suggest that chemotherapy is effective in reducing the morbidity of the disease and that the level of IL-13 may be a useful indicator of the persistence of fibrosis following treatment.

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