Hosts infected with Fasciola hepatica experience immunosuppression during the acute and chronic phases of the disease. This immunosuppression may allow parasite survival in the face of an ongoing immune response. In bovine hosts early IL-4 and continued IgG1 production is one of the few remaining features of the characteristic type 0/2 helper (Th0/2) response present in the chronic stage of disease. Here we demonstrate elevated levels of parasite-specific, in vitro peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC)-derived transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1 from the early phases of infection and increasing levels of IL-10 as the infection becomes chronic. In vitro neutralisation of these cytokines during culture of PBMCs from experimentally-infected cattle increased IL-4 and IFN-γ production in response to parasite-specific and non-specific stimulation. At 4 weeks p.i. neutralisation of TGF-β results in an increase in parasite driven IL-4, while also having a greater role, compared with IL-10, in influencing specific and non-specific IFN-γ. At 12 weeks p.i. ex vivo parasite driven IL-4 was not restored by inhibiting either IL-10 or TGF-β. However IL-10 influenced both parasite-specific and non-specific IFN-γ production at this time. This highlights the roles of IL-10 and TGF-β in fasciolosis, however the cellular sources of these have yet to be defined. This suggests that suppression of IFN-γ production by parasite molecules occurs during infection and it is possible that the suppression of IFN-γ production may mediate parasite survival in this disease.
- Cellular immune response
- Fasciola hepatica