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Deficient Regulatory T Cell Activity and Low Frequency of IL-17-Producing T Cells Correlate with the Extent of Cardiomyopathy in Human Chagas' Disease

Public Library of Science
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0001630
  • Research Article
  • Medicine
  • Cardiovascular
  • Cardiomyopathies
  • Clinical Immunology
  • Immune Cells
  • T Cells
  • Immune System
  • Cytokines
  • Immunity
  • Immunity To Infections
  • Immunoregulation
  • Immune Response
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Neglected Tropical Diseases
  • Chagas Disease
  • Parasitic Diseases
  • Medicine


Background Myocardium damage during Chagas' disease results from the immunological imbalance between pro- and production of anti-inflammatory cytokines and has been explained based on the Th1–Th2 dichotomy and regulatory T cell activity. Recently, we demonstrated that IL-17 produced during experimental T. cruzi infection regulates Th1 cells differentiation and parasite induced myocarditis. Here, we investigated the role of IL-17 and regulatory T cell during human Chagas' disease. Methodology/Principal Findings First, we observed CD4+IL-17+ T cells in culture of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from Chagas' disease patients and we evaluated Th1, Th2, Th17 cytokine profile production in the PBMC cells from Chagas' disease patients (cardiomyopathy-free, and with mild, moderate or severe cardiomyopathy) cultured with T. cruzi antigen. Cultures of PBMC from patients with moderate and severe cardiomyopathy produced high levels of TNF-α, IFN-γ and low levels of IL-10, when compared to mild cardiomyopathy or cardiomyopathy-free patients. Flow cytometry analysis showed higher CD4+IL-17+ cells in PBMC cultured from patients without or with mild cardiomyopathy, in comparison to patients with moderate or severe cardiomyopathy. We then analyzed the presence and function of regulatory T cells in all patients. All groups of Chagas' disease patients presented the same frequency of CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells. However, CD4+CD25+ T cells from patients with mild cardiomyopathy or cardiomyopathy-free showed higher suppressive activity than those with moderate and severe cardiomyopathy. IFN-γ levels during chronic Chagas' disease are inversely correlated to the LVEF (P = 0.007, r = −0.614), while regulatory T cell activity is directly correlated with LVEF (P = 0.022, r = 0.500). Conclusion/Significance These results indicate that reduced production of the cytokines IL-10 and IL-17 in association with high levels of IFN-γ and TNF-α is correlated with the severity of the Chagas' disease cardiomyopathy, and the immunological imbalance observed may be causally related with deficient suppressor activity of regulatory T cells that controls myocardial inflammation.

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