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The capacity to produce IFN-Gamma rather than the presence of Interleukin-4 determines the resistance and the degree of susceptibility to Leishmania donovani infection in mice

: Lehmann, J.; Enssle, K.-H.; Lehmann, I.; Emmendörffer, A.; Lohmann-Matthes, M.-L.


Journal of Interferon and Cytokine Research 20 (2000), S.63-77
ISSN: 1079-9907
Fraunhofer ITA ( ITEM) ()
Leishmania donovani; mice; pathology; interferon gamma; Interleukin-4

The immune response against Leischmania donovani infection has been investigated in one resistant mouse strain (C3H/HeJ) and three susceptible mouse strains (C57BL/6, BALB/c, and B10D2/n). In order to correlate the strain-specific course of infection with the individual T cell response phenotype, the ex vivo cytokine secretion patterns of splenic lymphocytes were assessed by ELISA (interferon-gamma [IFN-gamma], interleukin-4 [IL-4], IL-10) or by bioassay (IL-2). The strain-dependent differences in the course of infection correlated closely with the potency of T cells to produce IFN-gamma. C3H/HeJ mice produced high amounts of IFN-gamma before and during the infection, whereas susceptible mice produced low amounts of IFN-gamma earla during L. donovani infection. However, C57BL/6 mice, which recovered from the infection rapidly after the acute stage, developed marked IFN-gamma response within the first 30 days of infection. In contrast, in BALB/c and B10D2/n mice, the IFN-gamma production diminished during the acute stage, and this was associated with a delay in recovery and with subsequent switching into the chronic stage. Interestingly, CD8+ T cells contributed significantly to IFN-gamma production during this phase. In contrast to IFN-gamma, the levels of IL-4 in response to antigen or mitogen ex vivo were always very low. Moreover, neutralization of endogenous IL-4 in vivo by treatment with soluble murine IL-4 receptor did not result in significant decreases in the parasite burdens in spleen and liver butdi cause a decrease in the serum IgE level of L. donovani-infected BALB/c mice. These results confirm that in visceral leishmaniasis a Th1-dominated immune response is protective against the L. donovani parasites and, furthermore, that the capacity to produce IFN-gamma rather than the presence of IL-4 determines the efficacy of the immune response in susceptible mice. The data show that CD8+ Tcells represent an important source of IFN-gamma during L. donovani infection in susceptible mice, implying a role for this cell type in healing and development of protective immunity.