Induction of immunity to Schistosoma mansoni: interaction of schistosomula with accessory leucocytes in murine skin and draining lymph nodes

a1 Department of Biology, PO Box 373, University of York, York YO10 5YW, UK


A single exposure to radiation-attenuated cercariae of Schistosoma mansoni induces a high level of protective immunity in C57BL/6 mice, which is mediated by Th1 responses. Events in the skin and/or draining lymph nodes early after exposure are crucial for the induction of protection, and we have investigated the interactions of vaccinating parasites with host leucocytes in these 2 locations. We observed extensive lateral spreading of cercarial secretions along layers of the stratum corneum but not between keratinocytes. There was little direct contact with host leucocytes during the first 1–2 days when the parasites lay at the base of the epidermis, but cells accumulated in the underlying dermis. In contrast to normal parasites, attenuated larvae persisted in the dermis for >10 days, often surrounded by aggregates of macrophages/dendritic cells. Whilst cells bearing MHC II, CD11b or CD11c markers were present in the lymph nodes, particularly in the periphery and paracortical areas, no obvious redistribution was seen as a result of parasite residence there for 5–15 days. However, ultrastructural observations revealed numerous cells with macrophage/dendritic morphology in the vicinity of parasites, in some instances closely adherent to the tegument. The observations strongly suggest that the tegument is a potent source of the antigens which prime the immune system in the lymph nodes of vaccinated mice for a protective response.

(Received March 17 1998)
(Revised May 5 1998)
(Accepted May 6 1998)

Key Words: Schistosoma mansoni; radiation-attenuated vaccine; accessory cells; skin; lymph nodes.

c1 Corresponding author: Tel: +44 (0)1904 432830. Fax; +44 (0)1904 4328844. Email:
p1 Current address: Department of Pathobiology, Faculty of Science, Mahidol University, Rama VI Road, Bangkok, Thailand 10400.