CD4+ Th1 cells induced by dendritic cell-based immunotherapy in mice chronically infected with Leishmania amazonensis do not promote healing

Yannick F Vanloubbeeck, Amanda E Ramer, Fei Jie, Douglas E Jones
Infection and Immunity 2004, 72 (8): 4455-63
The susceptibility of mice to Leishmania amazonensis infection is thought to result from an inability to develop a Th1 response. Our data show that the low levels of gamma interferon (IFN-gamma) produced by the draining lymph node (DLN) cells of chronically infected mice could be enhanced in vitro and in vivo with L. amazonensis antigen-pulsed bone marrow-derived dendritic cells (BM-DC) and the Th1-promoting cytokine interleukin-12 (IL-12). Given intralesionally to chronically infected mice, this treatment induced the upregulation of mRNA levels for IFN-gamma, the transcription factor T-box expressed in T cells, and IL-12 receptor beta 2 in CD4(+) T cells from the DLN and an increase in parasite-specific immunoglobulin G2a in the serum. However, this Th1 response was not associated with healing, and the antigen-specific enhancement of IFN-gamma production remained impaired in the DLN. However, addition of IL-12 to the in vitro recall response was able to recover this defect, suggesting that antigen-presenting cell-derived IL-12 production may be limited in infected mice. This was supported by the fact that L. amazonensis amastigotes limited the production of IL-12p40 from BM-DC in vitro. Altogether, our data indicate that the immune response of mice chronically infected with L. amazonensis can be enhanced towards a Th1 phenotype but that the presence of Th1 CD4(+) T cells does not promote healing. This suggests that the phenotype of the CD4(+) T cells may not always be indicative of protection to L. amazonensis infection. Furthermore, our data support growing evidence that antigen-presenting cell function, such as IL-12 production, may limit the immune response in L. amazonensis-infected mice.

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