Lymphatic filariasis-specific immune responses in relation to lymphoedema grade and infection status. I. Cellular responses

N O Nielsen, P Bloch, P E Simonsen

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The filariasis-specific cellular responsiveness was assessed in 109 adult individuals from a Wuchereria bancrofti-endemic area in north-east Tanzania. There were 9 study groups. Five groups of individuals were negative for microfilariae (mf) and specific circulating filarial antigen (CFA) and had leg lymphoedema of varying severity ranging from early to more advanced grades (pathology groups 1-5). Another group comprised individuals with mixed grades of lymphoedema and positive for mf and/or CFA (mixed pathology group). Three asymptomatic groups consisted of individuals without leg pathology but with different infection status: (i) CFA- and mf-negative individuals, (ii) CFA-positive but mf-negative individuals, and (iii) CFA- and mf-positive individuals. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells were collected and proliferative responsiveness and secretion of interleukin (IL)-4, IL-10 and gamma interferon (IFN gamma) were measured upon stimulation with a Brugia pahangi antigen. No distinct differences in responses were observed between the 5 uninfected pathology groups. Instead, responses were associated with infection status, with generally higher proliferative activity and higher levels of IL-4 and IFN gamma in uninfected as compared to infected individuals. High levels of IL-10 were observed in asymptomatic individuals without infection and in asymptomatic CFA-positive but mf-negative individuals. Asymptomatic individuals with mf had relatively low IL-10 levels. Groups presenting with chronic pathology generally had low levels of IL-10 independently of infection status. The findings thus give no immediate indication that the measured immunological parameters are related to progression of leg pathology. However, alternative interpretations are presented which suggest a possible role of immunological reactions in development of pathology in lymphatic filariasis.

Original languageEnglish
JournalRoyal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. Transactions
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)446-52
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 25 Dec 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Antigens, Helminth
  • Cell Division
  • Cytokines
  • Elephantiasis, Filarial
  • Immunity, Cellular
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear
  • Lymphedema
  • Wuchereria bancrofti

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