Elimination of lymphocytes, but not eosinophils, by Fas-mediated apoptosis in murine schistosomiasis.

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  • 1 Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Division, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia 19104-6160, USA.

Infection with the helminth parasite Schistosoma mansoni is associated with a pathogenic granulomatous response to parasite eggs. Multiple cell types constitute the granuloma with eosinophils achieving numerical dominance. We hypothesize that eosinophil dominance is achieved by selective apoptosis in lymphocytes. We report here that lymphocytes from both the spleens and granulomas of S. mansoni-infected mice undergo apoptosis. We also show that granuloma lymphocytes are more susceptible to Fas-FasL-mediated apoptosis than spleen lymphocytes and this apoptosis may be related to antigen concentration. Conversely, eosinophils from the granuloma and spleens of S. mansoni-infected mice are resistant to apoptosis in vivo and are protected in vitro from Fas-FasL-mediated apoptosis by the absence of FasL expression in the presence of Fas expression. Finally, the apoptotic regulatory molecules Bcl-2, Bcl-xL, and Bax, do not appear to play a significant role in the regulation of eosinophil apoptosis in the schistosome granuloma.