a1 Institute of Parasitology, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Bern, Laenggass-Strasse 122, CH-3012 Bern, Switzerland
a2 Institute for Infectious Diseases, University of Bern, Friedbuehlstrasse 51, CH-3010 Bern, Switzerland
The immune response of mice experimentally infected with Echinococcus multilocularis metacestodes becomes impaired so as to allow parasite survival and proliferation. Our study tackled the question on how different classes of E. multilocularis antigens (crude vesicular fluid (VF); purified proteinic rec-14-3-3; purified carbohydrate Em2(G11)) are involved in the maturation process of bone-marrow-derived dendritic cells (BMDCs) and subsequent exposure to lymph node (LN) cells. In our experiments, we used BMDCs cultivated from either naïve (control) or alveolar echinococcosis (AE)-infected C57BL/6 mice. We then tested surface markers (CD80, CD86, MHC class II) and cytokine expression levels (interleukin (IL)-10, IL-12p40 and tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α) of non-stimulated BMDCs versus BMDCs stimulated with different Em-antigens or lipopolysaccharide (LPS). While LPS and rec-14-3-3-antigen were able to induce CD80, CD86 and (to a lower extent) MHC class II surface expression, Em2(G11) and, strikingly, also VF-antigen failed to do so. Similarly, LPS and rec-14-3-3 yielded elevated IL-12, TNF-α and IL-10 expression levels, while Em2(G11) and VF-antigen didn't. When naïve BMDCs were loaded with VF-antigen, they induced a strong non-specific proliferation of uncommitted LN cells. For both, BMDCs or LN cells, isolated from AE-infected mice, proliferation was abrogated. The most striking difference, revealed by comparing naïve with AE-BMDCs, was the complete inability of LPS-stimulated AE-BMDCs to activate lymphocytes from any LN cell group. Overall, the presenting activity of BMDCs from AE-infected mice seemed to trigger unresponsiveness in T cells, especially in the case of VF-antigen stimulation, thus contributing to the suppression of clonal expansion during the chronic phase of AE infection.
(Accepted December 02 2010)
(Online publication January 13 2011)