The BALB/c Mouse as a Model for Immunological Studies of Microfilariae-Induced Pulmonary Eosinophilia

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  • Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio

Tropical pulmonary eosinophilia (TPE) is believed to result from extreme immediate hypersensitivity to microfilariae localized in the pulmonary vasculature of some persons with lymphatic filariasis. Female BALB/c mice repeatedly immunized by ip injection of Brugia malayi microfilariae become amicrofilaremic within 24 hr of iv parasite challenge, whereas non-sensitized control animals remain patent for > 72 hr. Immunized, but not control mice, develop peripheral blood and pulmonary eosinophilia (2,000 cells/mm3 and 65,000 cells/bronchoalveolar lavage, respectively). Serum and bronchoalveolar lavage filarial-specific IgG antibodies are greater in sensitized mice than in controls (ELISA absorbance values 20- and 10-fold higher, respectively). Serum IgE antibody levels are also greater (P < 0.01) in immunized parasite-challenged mice than in controls (mean cpm 125I-labeled anti-mouse IgE bound to B. malayi antigen-coated Sepharose beads: 7,852 vs. 1,741, respectively). This model exhibits several of the major features of human TPE: amicrofilaremia, elevated levels of serum IgG and IgE antibodies to microfilariae, and blood and pulmonary eosinophilia. This model may be useful in the examination of the role of filarial antigen-specific lymphoid cells and antibodies in regulating the pathologic responses to microfilariae trapped in the lung.