Cell-mediated immune responses in human infection with Onchocerca volvulus

M. Gallin, K. Edmonds, J. J. Ellner, K. D. Erttmann, A. T. White, H. S. Newland, H. R. Taylor, B. M. Greene

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


Mechanisms involved in modulation of the immune response in persons with chronic Onchocerca volvulus infection are poorly understood. In this study in vitro reactivity of PBMC to O. volvulus antigen (Ovag), streptolysin O (SL-O) and the mitogen PHA was tested in 62 infected individuals (INF), 17 persons living in the endemic area with exposure to the infection, but with no detectable infection (END), and 7 healthy controls (CTRL) in Liberia, West Africa. Mean blastogenic responses to Ovag were minimal and did not differ between the groups. There was, however, heterogenous reactivity to Ovag in the INF and END. For example, individuals with a history of therapy, and half of those less than 17 yr old who were tested, showed high responses. No significant differences in the response to SL-O or PHA were detected between the groups. IL-2 production in response to Ovag was minimal in the majority of infected subjects. Exogenous IL-2 was found to cause a significant increase in mean responses to Ovag and SL-O in INF and END only. Similarly, Ovag did not stimulate IL-1 production in most INF, whereas stimulation with LPS led to significantly greater production of IL-1. Depletion of plastic and nylon wool adherent cells did not increase responses to parasite-related antigen in INF, END or CTRL; however, responses to SL-O were augmented in INF, an effect that was also observed in CTRL. Finally, depletion of CD8 or CD16 cells in INF by C lysis did not increase blastogenic responses. These results indicate that cell-mediated immunity to parasite-related Ag as reflected in lymphocyte responses in vitro is diminished in infected individuals, and that this may be caused by defects in T cell activation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1999-2007
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1988
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology


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