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J Infect Dis. 2013 Jan 1;207(1):186-95. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jis654. Epub 2012 Oct 19.

T-helper 17 cells are associated with pathology in human schistosomiasis.

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Immunology Unit, Laboratory of Bacteriology and Virology, Aristide Le Dantec Teaching Hospital, Dakar, Senegal.



Schistosome infections are often clinically silent, but some individuals develop severe pathological reactions. In several disease processes, T-helper 17 (Th17) cells have been linked to tissue injuries, while regulatory T cells (Tregs) are thought to downmodulate inflammatory reactions. We assessed whether bladder pathology in human Schistosoma haematobium infection is related to the balance of Th17 cells and Tregs. We used a murine model of Schistosoma mansoni infection to further investigate whether the peripheral profiles reflected ongoing events in tissues.


We characterized T-helper cell subsets in the peripheral blood of children residing in a S. haematobium-endemic area and in the peripheral blood, spleen, and hepatic granulomas of S. mansoni-infected high-pathology CBA mice and low-pathology C57BL/6 mice.


S. haematobium-infected children with bladder pathology had a significantly higher percentage of Th17 cells than those without pathology. Moreover, the Th17/Treg ratios were significantly higher in infected children with pathology, compared with infected children without pathology. Percentages of interleukin 17-producing cells were significantly higher in spleen and granulomas of CBA mice, compared with C57BL/6 mice. This difference was also reflected in the peripheral blood.


This is the first study to indicate that Th17 cells may be involved in the pathogenesis of human schistosomiasis.

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