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Differential Cytokine Pattern in the Spleens and Livers of BALB/c Mice Infected with Penicillium marneffei: Protective Role of Gamma Interferon

  • Francesca Sisto
  • Annarita Miluzio
  • Orazio Leopardi
  • Maurizio Mirra
  • Johan R. Boelaert
  • Donatella Taramelli
American Society for Microbiology
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2003
  • Biology


Penicillium marneffei is an intracellular opportunistic fungus causing invasive mycosis in AIDS patients. T cells and macrophages are important for protection in vivo. However, the role of T-cell cytokines in the immune response against P. marneffei is still unknown. We studied by semiquantitative reverse transcription-PCR and biological assays the patterns of expression of Th1 and Th2 cytokines in the organs of wild-type (wt) and gamma interferon (IFN-γ) knockout (GKO) mice infected intravenously with P. marneffei conidia. At 3 × 105 conidia/mouse, a self-limiting infection developed in wt BALB/c mice, whereas all GKO mice died at day 18 postinoculation. Splenic and hepatic granulomas were present in wt mice, whereas disorganized masses of macrophages and yeast cells were detected in GKO mice. The infection resolved faster in the spleens than in the livers of wt mice and was associated with the local expression of type 1 cytokines (high levels of interleukin-12 [IL-12] and IFN-γ) but not type 2 cytokines (low levels of IL-4 and IL-10). Conversely, both type 1 and type 2 cytokines were detected in the livers of wt animals. Disregulation of the cytokine profile was seen in the spleens but not in the livers of GKO mice. The inducible nitric oxide synthase mRNA level was low and the TNF-α level was high in both spleens and livers of GKO mice compared to wt mice. These data suggest that the polarization of a protective type 1 immune response against P. marneffei is regulated at the level of individual organs and that the absence of IFN-γ is crucial for the activation of fungicidal macrophages and the development of granulomas.

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