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PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2011 Jun;5(6):e1178. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0001178. Epub 2011 Jun 7.

Differential expression of chemokine and matrix re-modelling genes is associated with contrasting schistosome-induced hepatopathology in murine models.

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Molecular Parasitology Laboratory, Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Herston, Brisbane, Australia.


The pathological outcomes of schistosomiasis are largely dependent on the molecular and cellular mechanisms of the host immune response. In this study, we investigated the contribution of variations in host gene expression to the contrasting hepatic pathology observed between two inbred mouse strains following Schistosoma japonicum infection. Whole genome microarray analysis was employed in conjunction with histological and immunohistochemical analysis to define and compare the hepatic gene expression profiles and cellular composition associated with the hepatopathology observed in S. japonicum-infected BALB/c and CBA mice. We show that the transcriptional profiles differ significantly between the two mouse strains with high statistical confidence. We identified specific genes correlating with the more severe pathology associated with CBA mice, as well as genes which may confer the milder degree of pathology associated with BALB/c mice. In BALB/c mice, neutrophil genes exhibited striking increases in expression, which coincided with the significantly greater accumulation of neutrophils at granulomatous regions seen in histological sections of hepatic tissue. In contrast, up-regulated expression of the eosinophil chemokine CCL24 in CBA mice paralleled the cellular influx of eosinophils to the hepatic granulomas. Additionally, there was greater down-regulation of genes involved in metabolic processes in CBA mice, reflecting the more pronounced hepatic damage in these mice. Profibrotic genes showed similar levels of expression in both mouse strains, as did genes associated with Th1 and Th2 responses. However, imbalances in expression of matrix metalloproteinases (e.g. MMP12, MMP13) and tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMP1) may contribute to the contrasting pathology observed in the two strains. Overall, these results provide a more complete picture of the molecular and cellular mechanisms which govern the pathological outcome of hepatic schistosomiasis. This improved understanding of the immunopathogenesis in the murine model schistosomiasis provides the basis for a better appreciation of the complexities associated with chronic human schistosomiasis.

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