, Volume 87, Issue 9, pp 722-729

Parasite-specific antibody and cellular immune responses in humans infected with Necator americanus and Oesophagostomum bifurcum

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In this study parasite-specific antibody, cellular reactivity and Th1-type or Th2-type cytokine responses were investigated in humans concurrently infected with Necator americanus and Oesophagostomum bifurcum. The prospects for O. bifurcum-specific serodiagnosis based on IgG4 and IgE were evaluated. IgG4 showed low specificity for O. bifurcum due to antigen cross-reactivity with N. americanus, while IgE specifically distinguished between hookworm and O. bifurcum, and, in doubly infected patients, levels of O. bifurcum-specific as well as N. americanus-specific IgE were significantly elevated compared to those with N. americanus mono-infections. Cellular immunity was not strictly dominated by a Th1- or Th2- type reactivity. In co-infected patients cellular unresponsiveness to parasite antigens was observed, while cellular production of tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and gamma-interferon (IFN-γ) was greater in those doubly infected. Th2-type cytokines (interleukin-5 and interleukin-10) were produced in equal amounts by peripheral blood mononuclear cells from individuals with mono- and co-infections. Such mixed Th1-type and Th2-type immune responsiveness associated with persisting gastrointestinal parasitic nematodes may reflect a state of infection at which parasite-induced inflammatory and enteropathogenic responses co-exist, and furthermore, helminth co-infection will not only suppress parasite-specific cellular responsiveness but may also direct cytokine production towards a "permissive Th1-type cytokine profile" that favours parasite persistence.

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