Parasitology Research

, Volume 91, Issue 4, pp 298–303 | Cite as

Investigations on the biology, epidemiology, pathology and control of Tunga penetrans in Brazil: III. Cytokine levels in peripheral blood of infected humans

  • Hermann Feldmeier
  • Jörg Heukelbach
  • Margit Eisele
  • Ronaldo Ribeiro
  • Gundel Harms
  • Heinz Mehlhorn
  • Oliver Liesenfeld
Original Paper


Tungiasis is caused by penetration of the female jigger flea, Tunga penetrans, into the skin of its host. This parasitic skin disease is almost invariably associated with intense inflammation around embedded fleas, the underlying mechanisms being unknown. A study was undertaken to determine whether the inflammatory process can be attributed to immune activation induced by a biologically active foreign body. We determined the concentrations of Th1-mediated (IFN-γ, TNF-α) and Th2-mediated (IL-4) cytokines in the sera of patients with tungiasis. The results were compared with those of controls infected with different helminths or exposed to soil-transmitted helminths. The results show that tungiasis causes a mixed Th1 and Th2 immune response, characterized by significantly increased concentrations of the pro-inflammatory cytokines IFN-γ and TNF-α, with a slightly increased concentration of IL-4. The preponderance of the Th1 immune response was indicated by a significantly increased TNF-α/IL-4 ratio in patients with tungiasis, as compared with the control groups.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag is a part of Springer Science+Business Media 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hermann Feldmeier
    • 1
  • Jörg Heukelbach
    • 2
  • Margit Eisele
    • 1
  • Ronaldo Ribeiro
    • 3
  • Gundel Harms
    • 4
  • Heinz Mehlhorn
    • 5
  • Oliver Liesenfeld
    • 6
  1. 1.Institute of International Health, Center for Humanities and Health Sciences, Faculty of MedicineFree University of BerlinBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Mandacaru FoundationFortalezaBrazil
  3. 3.Department of Pharmacology and Physiology, Faculty of MedicineFederal University of CearáBrazil
  4. 4.Institute of Tropical MedicineHumboldt University BerlinBerlinGermany
  5. 5.Department of Zoology and ParasitologyHeinrich-Heine-UniversityDüsseldorfGermany
  6. 6.Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology of Infection, Institute for Infectious Medicine, Benjamin Franklin Medical CenterFree University of BerlinBerlinGermany

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