Characterization of CD4+ T Cell Responses in Mice Infected with Schistosoma japonicum

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To better understand the interaction between Schistosoma japonicum and its murine host, we characterized the immune response of CD4+ T cells generated during an experimental S. japonicum infection based on different key aspects, from gene expression to cell behavior. Mouse oligonucleotide microarrays were used to compare gene expression profiles of CD4+ T cells from spleens of mice at 0, 3, 6 and 13 weeks post-infection. Flow cytometry analysis was used to determine type 1 and type 2 cytokine-secreting CD4+ T cells, to test apoptosis of CD4+ T cells and to count CD4+CD25+ T cells, a kind of regulatory subpopulation of CD4+ T cells. The percentage of interleukin-4-producing CD4+ T cells was found to be much higher than that of ?-interferon-producing cells, especially after stimulation with S. japonicum egg antigen, which was consistent with type 1 and type 2 cytokine gene expression in the genechip. Microarray data also showed that S. japonicum induced the increased expression of Th2 response-related genes, whereas some transcripts related to the Th1 responsive pathway were depressed. Flow cytometry analysis showed a marked increase in the apoptotic CD4+ T cells from 6 weeks post-infection and in the ratio of CD4+CD25+ to CD4+ T cells in infected mice after 13 weeks. We therefore concluded that experimental infection of mice with S. japonicum resulted in a Th2-skewed immune response, which was to a great extent monitored by the immune regulatory network, including cytokine cross-modulation, cell apoptosis and the subpopulation of regulatory cells.

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