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During Trypanosoma cruzi Infection CD1d-Restricted NK T Cells Limit Parasitemia and Augment the Antibody Response to a Glycophosphoinositol-Modified Surface Protein

  • Malcolm S. Duthie
  • Monika Wleklinski-Lee
  • Sherilyn Smith
  • Toshinori Nakayama
  • Masaru Taniguchi
  • Stuart J. Kahn
American Society for Microbiology
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2002
  • Biology
  • Medicine


Trypanosoma cruzi is a protozoan parasite that chronically infects many mammalian species and in humans causes Chagas’ disease, a chronic inflammatory disease. The parasite expresses glycophosphoinositol (GPI), which potently stimulates interleukin 12 (IL-12) production. During T. cruzi infection IL-12, and possibly GPI, might stimulate NK T cells to affect the protective and chronic inflammatory responses. Here we report that during T. cruzi infection CD1d-restricted NK T cells are stimulated as NK T-cell-deficient mice have greater parasitemia. Furthermore, during T. cruzi infection the percentages of NK T cells in the liver and spleen become decreased for prolonged periods of time, and in vitro stimulation of NK T cells derived from livers of chronically infected mice, compared to uninfected mice, results in increased gamma interferon and IL-4 secretion. Moreover, in NK T-cell-deficient mice the chronic-phase antibody response to a GPI-modified surface protein is decreased. These results indicate that, during the acute infection, NK T cells limit parasitemia and that, during the chronic phase, NK T cells augment the antibody response. Thus, during T. cruzi infection the quality of an individual’s NK T-cell response can affect the level of parasitemia and parasite tissue burden, the intensity of the chronic inflammatory responses, and possibly the outcome of Chagas’ disease.

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