Modulation of Innate Antigen-Presenting Cell Function by Pre-patent Schistosome Infection

Christine E. Ferragine, Colleen D. Walls, Stephen J. Davies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Schistosomes are intravascular helminths that infect over 200 million people worldwide. Deposition of eggs by adult schistosomes stimulates Th2 responses to egg antigens and induces granulomatous pathology that is a hallmark of schistosome infection. Paradoxically, schistosomes require host immune function for their development and reproduction and for egress of parasite eggs from the host. To identify potential mechanisms by which immune cells might influence parasite development prior to the onset of egg production, we assessed immune function in mice infected with developing schistosomes. We found that pre-patent schistosome infection is associated with a loss of T cell responsiveness to other antigens and is due to a diminution in the ability of innate antigen-presenting cells to stimulate T cells. Diminution of stimulatory capacity by schistosome worms specifically affected CD11b+ cells and did not require concomitant adaptive responses. We could not find evidence for production of a diffusible inhibitor of T cells by innate cells from infected mice. Rather, inhibition of T cell responsiveness by accessory cells required cell contact and only occurred when cells from infected mice outnumbered competent APCs by more than 3:1. Finally, we show that loss of T cell stimulatory capacity may in part be due to suppression of IL-12 expression during pre-patent schistosome infection. Modulation of CD4+ T cell and APC function may be an aspect of host immune exploitation by schistosomes, as both cell types influence parasite development during pre-patent schistosome infection.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2136
JournalPLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


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