Faculty Research 1990 - 1999

Host NK cells are required for the growth of the human filarial parasite Brugia malayi in mice.

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Animal, Brugia malayi/drug effects/*growth & development/*immunology, Crosses, Genetic, Filariasis/immunology/parasitology, Host-Parasite Relations/immunology, Human, Injections, Intraperitoneal, Killer Cells, Natural/drug effects/*immunology/*parasitology, Lymphocyte Depletion, Male, Mice, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Mice, Inbred NOD, Mice, Knockout, Mice, SCID, Mice, Transgenic, Poly I-C/administration & dosage, Receptors, Antigen T-Cell/genetics

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J Immunol 1998 Aug 1;161(3):1428-32


AI39705/AI/NIAID, AI30389/AI/NIAID, CA34196/CA/NCI


Human lymphatic filariasis, which afflicts an estimated 120 million people worldwide, is caused by the large nematode parasites Wuchereria bancrofti and Brugia malayi. Filarial nematodes require both an arthropod vector and a mammalian host to complete their life cycle. Within the definitive (mammalian) host, the lymphatic filarial parasites reside in the lymph nodes and lymphatics, a seemingly hostile environment for infectious agents, since the location exposes them to the immune defenses of the host. We present data here that suggest that the growth of B. malayi in the mammalian host is dependent on host NK cell function. Comparisons of worm survival and development in different strains of mice with varying levels of NK cell activity reveal that NOD/LtSz-scid/scid and NOD/LtSz-scid/scid B2m(null) mice (with diminished to absent NK cell activity respectively), are nonpermissive to worm growth, while C.B-17-scid/scid mice with normal NK cell activity are highly permissive. Depletion of NK cells in the permissive C57BL/6J-scid/scid mice renders them nonpermissive to B. malayi growth, whereas stimulation of NK cells in NOD/LtSz-scid/scid mice makes them permissive. Tg epsilon26 mice, which lack NK and T cells, are nonpermissive, but, when reconstituted with NK cells by adoptive transfer of bone marrow cells from C57BL16J-scid/scid mice, are rendered permissive. This requirement for NK cell activity may explain the site specificity of these parasites. Furthermore, these data suggest that the interaction of the host immune system with the filarial parasite is double edged, with both host protective and parasite growth-promoting activities emanating from the former.