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J Immunol. 2000 Nov 1;165(9):5161-9.

The serpin secreted by Brugia malayi microfilariae, Bm-SPN-2, elicits strong, but short-lived, immune responses in mice and humans.

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Institute of Cell, Animal and Population Biology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom.


Understanding the basic immunology of an infectious disease requires insight into the pattern of T cell reactivity and specificity. Although lymphatic filariasis is a major tropical disease, the predominant T cell Ags of filarial species such as Brugia malayi are still undefined. We have now identified a prominent T cell Ag from B. malayi microfilariae (Mf) as Bm-SPN-2, a serpin secreted exclusively by this stage. Mf-infected mice mounted strong, but short-lived, Bm-SPN-2-specific Th1 responses, measured by in vitro production of IFN-gamma, but not IL-4 or IL-5, 14 days postinfection. By day 35, responsiveness to Bm-SPN-2 was lost despite enhanced reactivity to whole Mf extract. Single immunization with Mf extract also stimulated typical Th1 reactions to Bm-SPN-2, but IgG1 Ab responses dominated after repeated immunizations. Human patients displayed potent humoral responses to Bm-SPN-2 in both IgG1 and IgG4 subclasses. Thus, 100% (20 of 20) of the microfilaremic (MF(+)) patients bore IgG4 responses to Bm-SPN-2, while only 30% of endemic normal subjects were similarly positive. Following chemotherapy, Bm-SPN-2-specific Abs disappeared in 12 of 13 MF(+) patients, although the majority remained seropositive for whole parasite extract. PBMC from most, but not all, endemic subjects were induced to secrete IFN-gamma when stimulated with Bm-SPN-2. These findings demonstrate that Bm-SPN-2 is recognized by both murine and human T and B cells and indicate that their responses are under relatively stringent temporal control. This study also provides the first example of a stage-specific secreted molecule that acts as a major T cell Ag from filarial parasites and is a prime candidate for a serodiagnostic probe.

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