Predominance of CD8+ T Lymphocytes in the Inflammatory Lesions of Mice with Acute Trypanosoma cruzi Infection

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  • Department of Zoology, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia
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Using glycol methacrylate in conjunction with avidin-biotin-peroxidase complex techniques, we studied the contribution of T cell subsets to tissue inflammation during acute Trypanosoma cruzi infection. Two mouse/parasite model systems whose parasitology and pathology behaved differently were used. In C57Bl/6J mice infected with the T. cruzi Brazil strain, the levels of parasitism in blood and tissue (myocardial and skeletal muscle) reached a maximum at week 6 and decreased rapidly thereafter. Inflammatory responses in tissue corresponded with the parasitism, but decreased in intensity more gradually than that of parasitism. The T lymphocytes (Thy 1.2+) were found to be the major lymphocyte population in inflammatory cardiac and skeletal muscles (64.6–81.2%) at both three and six weeks postinfection. Among T cells, CD8+ cells (47.0–58.9%) significantly outnumbered CD4+ cells (9.3–18.6%). The number of B cells (0–1.0%) and macrophages was low. Experiments using C3H/HeSnJ mice infected with the Sylvio X10/4 clone of T. cruzi at 30 days postinfection resulted in similar findings except for a higher CD8+:CD4+ ratio. The primary finding of this study is that Thy 1.2+CD8+CD4- T lymphocytes are the major cell population in both heart and skeletal muscle in acute murine T. cruzi infection. The predominance of CD8+ T cells coincident with the decrease in the tissue parasite burden suggests a role for CD8+ T cells in the control of T. cruzi at the level of the infected cell.