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Infect Immun. 2009 Jun;77(6):2488-98. doi: 10.1128/IAI.00919-08. Epub 2009 Mar 30.

The Fasciola hepatica tegumental antigen suppresses dendritic cell maturation and function.

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  • 1School of Nursing, Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland.


Parasitic worms and molecules derived from them have powerful anti-inflammatory properties and are shown to have therapeutic effects on inflammatory diseases. The helminth Fasciola hepatica has been reported to suppress antigen-specific Th1 responses in concurrent bacterial infections, thus demonstrating its anti-inflammatory ability in vivo. Here, F. hepatica tegumental antigen (Teg) was shown to significantly suppress serum levels of gamma interferon (IFN-gamma) and interleukin-12p70 (IL-12p70) in a model of septic shock. Since dendritic cells (DCs) are a good source of IL-12p70 and critical in driving adaptive immunity, we investigated the effects of F. hepatica Teg on the activation and function of murine DCs. While Teg alone did not induce cytokine production or cell surface marker expression on DCs, it significantly suppressed cytokine production (IL-12p70, IL-6, IL-10, tumor necrosis factor alpha, and nitrite) and cell surface marker expression (CD80, CD86, and CD40) in DCs matured with a range of Toll-like receptor (TLR) and non-TLR ligands. Teg works independently of the TLR4 pathway, since it still functioned in DCs generated from TLR4 mutant and knockout mice. It impaired DC function by inhibiting their phagocytic capacity and their ability to prime T cells. It does not appear to target the common components (extracellular signal-regulated kinase, Jun N-terminal protein kinase, or p38) of the TLR pathways; however, it suppressed the active p65 subunit of the transcription factor NF-kappaB in mature DCs, which could explain the impairment of proinflammatory cytokine production. Overall, our results demonstrate the potent anti-inflammatory properties of F. hepatica Teg and its therapeutic potential as an anti-inflammatory agent.

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