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Immunology. 1994 Nov;83(3):347-52.

gamma delta T cells play a crucial role in the expression of 65,000 MW heat-shock protein in mice immunized with Toxoplasma antigen.

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Department of Parasitology and Immunology, School of Medicine, University of Tokushima, Japan.


Toxoplasma gondii is an obligate intracellular protozoan parasite and cellular immunity plays a crucial role in protection against infection with this pathogen. When mice are immunized with Toxoplasma homogenate, they readily acquire resistance against infection with a lethal dose of a low virulence Beverley strain of T. gondii. We have reported previously that expression of 65,000 MW heat-shock protein (hsp 65) in host macrophages closely correlates with protective potentials of hosts, while this protein is not expressed in Toxoplasma themselves. In this study, we examined the mechanism of expression of hsp 65 in mice immunized with Toxoplasma homogenate. Heat-shock protein was detected in peritoneal macrophages of BALB/c mice immunized 7 days previously by electroblot assay with a specific monoclonal antibody (mAb) for microbial hsp 65. Furthermore, an immunogold ultracytochemistry assay demonstrated that this protein was expressed on the cell surface of peritoneal macrophages in immune mice. This expression was not induced in those of immune athymic nude mice and SCID mice. Treatment of BALB/c mice with anti-Thy-1.2 mAb 1 day before immunization led to an almost complete loss of the expression of hsp 65. To determine the subsets of T cells responsible for induction of this protein, mice were depleted of gamma delta T cells, alpha beta T cells, CD4+ T cells or CD8+ T cells by treating with corresponding antibodies before immunization. From these experiments, gamma delta T cells were shown to be essential for the expression of hsp 65, although CD4+ alpha beta T cells also contributed to some extent. Thus, gamma delta T cells appear to play an important role in protective immunity against infection with T. gondii through mediating the expression of hsp 65 in host macrophages.

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