[TH1 response in the experimental infection with Trypanosoma cruzi].Medicina (B Aires) 1999; 59 Suppl 2:84-90M
Specific antibodies and the activation of phagocytic cells by IFN-gamma are the key elements of the immune response involved in protection of the T. cruzi infected host. The central role of the IFN-gamma in vivo seems to be the activation of the inducible nitric oxide synthetase of macrophages (iNOS) and the production of nitric oxide (NO degree) for the intracellular destruction of the parasite. Interleukin 12 (IL-12), the cytokine that stimulates NK cells for IFN-gamma production, seems to trigger the TH1 response in the acute phase. Other cell types, such as lymphocytes Thy-1+CD4-CD8-, CD4+ and CD8+, are also involved in IFN-gamma production. The down regulation of the TH1 response could in part depend on the decrease in the macrophage activation, as a result of the controlled parasite burden, and on the production of IL-10 and transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta). The protective TH1 immune response seems to be also related to both the tissue damage and the alterations of the immune response observed during the infection. We studied the kinetics of both NK cell activity, and the production of IL-12 and/IFN-gamma by spleen cells, as well as the seric levels of these cytokines, in BALB/c and C3H mice infected with T. cruzi, Tulahuén strain. In the spleen, we found that the production of IL-12 and the NK cell activity increased in the very early acute infection, and that in C3H the effect was higher than in BALB/c mice. IFN-gamma increased in C3H at the same time, but in the BALB/c strain it increased later in the acute phase. The infection induced a very early increase in the seric levels of IL-12, that remained high throughout the acute phase, in both mouse strains. However, the levels of IFN-gamma in the serum increased a few days before the peak of parasitemia, reaching higher values, and earlier, in BALB/c than in C3H mice. Surprisingly, in the chronic infection IL-12 production remained high in both mouse strains, but IFN-gamma production was only observed in BALB/c mice. The immune response was predominantly TH1 in both mouse strains, in spite of the higher susceptibility of BALB/c compared to C3H. The early control of the parasite burden could be evaluated as the expression of the TH1 response in spleen cells, while the seric levels of IL-12 and IFN-gamma would be related to the induction of tissue damage. Our data indicate that the protective TH1 immune response has a different expression according to the host-parasite relationship, and that the factors controlling the response are of primary importance to determine the quali- and quantitative expression of IL-12/NK/IFN-gamma as well as their involvement in resistance and tissue damage.