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PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2012;6(7):e1761. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0001761. Epub 2012 Jul 31.

Regulatory T cells enhance susceptibility to experimental Trypanosoma congolense infection independent of mouse genetic background.

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Department of Medical Microbiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.



BALB/c mice are highly susceptible while C57BL/6 are relatively resistant to experimental Trypanosoma congolense infection. Although regulatory T cells (Tregs) have been shown to regulate the pathogenesis of experimental T. congolense infection, their exact role remains controversial. We wished to determine whether Tregs contribute to distinct phenotypic outcomes in BALB/c and C57BL/6 mice and if so how they operate with respect to control of parasitemia and production of disease-exacerbating proinflammatory cytokines.


BALB/c and C57BL/6 mice were infected intraperitoneally (i.p) with 10(3)T. congolense clone TC13 and both the kinetics of Tregs expansion and intracellular cytokine profiles in the spleens and livers were monitored directly ex vivo by flow cytometry. In some experiments, mice were injected with anti-CD25 mAb prior or post T. congolense infection or adoptively (by intravenous route) given highly enriched naïve CD25(+) T lymphocytes prior to T. congolense infection and the inflammatory cytokine/chemokine levels and survival were monitored. In contrast to a transient and non significant increase in the percentages and absolute numbers of CD4(+)CD25(+)Foxp3(+) T cells (Tregs) in C57BL/6 mouse spleens and livers, a significant increase in the percentage and absolute numbers of Tregs was observed in spleens of infected BALB/c mice. Ablation or increasing the number of CD25(+) cells in the relatively resistant C57BL/6 mice by anti-CD25 mAb treatment or by adoptive transfer of CD25(+) T cells, respectively, ameliorates or exacerbates parasitemia and production of proinflammatory cytokines.


Collectively, our results show that regulatory T cells contribute to susceptibility in experimental murine trypanosomiasis in both the highly susceptible BALB/c and relatively resistant C57BL/6 mice.

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