Destruction of the multicellular parasite Schistosoma mansoni by T lymphocytes

J. J. Ellner, G. R. Olds, C. W. Lee, M. E. Kleinhenz, K. L. Edmonds

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21 Scopus citations


The role of cytotoxic T lymphocytes in host defences against infectious agents is unknown as these cells have not previously been demonstrated to kill microorganisms directly. We studied the cytotoxicity of T lymphocytes purified from peripheral blood mononuclear cells of healthy subjects for the multicellular schistosomula of Schistosoma mansoni. Unstimulated and phytohemagglutinin (PHA)-stimulated T cells were cultured with schistosomula at a 5,000:1 effector/target (E:T) ratio for 18 h at 37°C. Unstimulated T cells killed 2.1±0.6% of schistosomula as judged by dye uptake and did not change their infectivity for mice. In contrast, PHA-stimulated T cells killed 41.3±3.1% of schistosomula by dye uptake and 56.7±7.7% of these organisms could not mature to adult worms in vivo. Killing was associated with and dependent on increased binding of PHA-stimulated T lymphocytes to schistosomula. Significant schistosomula killing first was noted after 2 h of exposure of T cells to PHA and peaked at 24 h; enhanced killing by PHA-stimulated cells was observed at E:T ratio of 500:1 and was maximal at 5,000:1. Exposure of T lymphocytes to oxidative mitogens, soluble antigens, and alloantigen also resulted in enhanced killing of schistosomula. These studies show that T lymphocytes activated by a variety of stimuli develop the capacity to kill schistosomula of Schistosoma mansoni. Direct killing of infectious agents by cytotoxic T cells may contribute to host resistance to infections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)369-378
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Clinical Investigation
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1982
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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