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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1993 Feb 1;90(3):948-52.

Helminth infection results in decreased virus-specific CD8+ cytotoxic T-cell and Th1 cytokine responses as well as delayed virus clearance.

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Laboratory of Parasitic Disease, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892.


During the time of egg deposition, schistosome-infected mice exhibit a downregulation in interleukin 2 and interferon gamma production toward parasite antigens, mitogens, and foreign nonparasite protein antigens. To determine whether this imbalance in cytokine response would impact on CD8+ cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) responses, as well as on immune clearance of viral infections, we challenged Schistosoma mansoni-infected BALB/c mice, when cytokine imbalance was prominent, with a recombinant vaccinia virus expressing human immunodeficiency virus type 1 gp160. In contrast to control vaccinia-infected animals, S. mansoni plus vaccinia-infected mice did not produce significant Th1 cytokine responses upon in vitro stimulation with recombinant gp120, consistent with previous results for nonparasite antigens. However, more striking was the downregulation of the virus-specific CTL response not previously studied. Spleen cells from vaccinia-infected control mice displayed strong CD8+ cytolytic activity against gp160-transfected fibroblasts and fibroblasts pulsed with a peptide (P18) representing a CTL epitope of gp160. In contrast, mice coinfected with S. mansoni and vaccinia manifested absent or markedly reduced in vitro CTL activity even in the presence of exogenous interleukin 2. To determine whether this immune dysregulation might impact on viral clearance, we measured virus titers in tissues as a function of time. Mice infected with vaccinia virus alone rapidly cleared the virus, whereas in animals coinfected with S. mansoni, viral clearance was delayed by as much as 3 weeks in the liver and by several days in the spleen and lungs. These observations suggest that helminth infection may influence immune responses to concurrent viral infections.

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