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Both parasite and host immune factors may contribute to the development and progression of chronic chagasic cardiomyopathy during Trypanosoma cruzi infections. The present study targeted infected children (5-14 years of age) from an endemic area of Paraguay in an analysis of T. cruzi-specific cytokine profiles. This age group is characteristically the most affected by the early phases of infection. Trypanosoma cruzi-induced cytokine gene expression (interleukin-2 [IL-2], and interferon-gamma [IFN-gamma], IL-4, and IL-10) was studied in 25 seropositive children categorized as being either acute, symptomatic, with Romana's sign (n = 2), or early, indeterminate (postacute, n = 23). Acutely infected children showed a distinct T helper cell-1 (Th1)-type (IFN-gamma) cytokine response to infection. The cytokine pattern that was observed in the seropositive, asymptomatic (early, indeterminate) group was of the Th0 type (expression of both IFN-gamma and IL-4). We hypothesize that selective induction of a Th0-type cytokine pattern is important for development of cell-mediated and humoral immune responses that suppress parasite burden, thereby prolonging the onset or limiting the severity of chronic Chagas' disease later in life.