Immunosuppression Mediated by Adult Worms in Chronic Schistosomiasis Mansoni

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  • Department of Biochemistry-Immunology and Schistosomiasis Research Unit, Institute of Biological Sciences, Federal University of Minas Gerais, P.O. Box 2486, 30.000 Bela Horisonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil

A marked reduction in the number of plaque-forming cells from spleens of mice infected with Schistosoma mansoni to sheep erythrocytes (SRBC) and lipopolysaccharide from Escherichia coli was observed. This reduction coincided with the late stages of the infection and was also observed in unisexual infection with male worms. Treatment of the animals with a schistosomicidal compound (oxamniquine) almost completely abolished the immunosuppression. The suppression could be induced by administration of 60 µg protein from worm membrane preparations (24 h before SRBC injection), but not by egg-extract injection. When the crude membrane preparation was injected 48 h before or 0 to 24 h after the SRBC challenge, the immunosuppression was not observed. Significant reduction of footpad swelling was also noted in infected mice when injected with SRBC.