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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1991 Jul 1;88(13):5513-7.

Interleukin 4 is important in protective immunity to a gastrointestinal nematode infection in mice.

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Helminthic Diseases Laboratory, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Beltsville, MD 20705-2350.


Parasitic helminths typically induce components of immediate-type hypersensitivity, including elevated serum IgE, eosinophilia, and mucosal mast cells. These responses are T-cell-dependent and associated with rapid expulsion of parasitic worms from a sensitized host; existing experimental systems have failed to define the precise role of cytokines in these responses. We report here that anti-interleukin 4 or anti-interleukin 4 receptor antibodies block the polyclonal IgE response to a parasitic nematode, Heligmosomoides polygyrus, and abrogate protective immunity to the infection. In contrast, anti-interleukin 5 antibody prevented H. polygyrus-induced eosinophilia but did not prevent protection. These data provide evidence that a specific cytokine affects the physiology and survival of a parasitic nematode in the host.

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