A Comparative Study of Peripheral Immune Responses to Taenia solium in Individuals with Parenchymal and Subarachnoid Neurocysticercosis
BACKGROUND: The ability of Taenia solium to modulate the immune system likely contributes to their longevity in the human host. We tested the hypothesis that the nature of the immune response is related to the location of parasite and clinical manifestations of infection. METHODOLOGY: Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) were obtained from untreated patients with neurocysticercosis (NCC), categorized as having parenchymal or subarachnoid infection by the presence of cysts exclusively within the parenchyma or in subarachnoid spaces of the brain, and from uninfected (control) individuals matched by age and gender to each patient. Using multiplex detection technology, sera from NCC patients and controls and cytokine production by PBMC after T. solium antigen (TsAg) stimulation were assayed for levels of inflammatory and regulatory cytokines. PBMC were phenotyped by flow cytometry ex vivo and following in vitro stimulation with TsAg. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Sera from patients with parenchymal NCC demonstrated significantly higher Th1 (IFN-gamma/IL-12) and Th2 (IL-4/IL-13) cytokine responses and trends towards higher levels of IL-1beta/IL-8/IL-5 than those obtained from patients with subarachnoid NCC. Also higher in vitro antigen-driven TNF-beta secretion was detected in PBMC supernatants from parenchymal than in subarachnoid NCC. In contrast, there was a significantly higher IL-10 response to TsAg stimulation in patients with subarachnoid NCC compared to parenchymal NCC. Although no differences in regulatory T cells (Tregs) frequencies were found ex vivo, there was a trend towards greater expansion of Tregs upon TsAg stimulation in subarachnoid than in parenchymal NCC when data were normalized for the corresponding controls. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: T. solium infection of the subarachnoid space is associated with an enhanced regulatory immune response compared to infection in the parenchyma. The resulting anti-inflammatory milieu may represent a parasite strategy to maintain a permissive environment in the host or diminish inflammatory damage from the host immune response in the central nervous system.
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