Author(s): Philip Smith, Caitriona M Walsh, Niamh E Mangan, Rosie E Fallon, Padraic G Fallon
Infectious pathogens can selectively stimulate activation or suppression of T cells to facilitate their survival within humans. In this study we demonstrate that the trematode parasite Schistosoma mansoni has evolved with two distinct mechanisms to suppress T cell activation. During the initial 4- to 12-wk acute stages of a worm infection both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells are anergized. In contrast, infection with male and female worms induced T cell anergy at 4 wk, which was replaced after egg laying by T cell suppression via a known NO-dependent mechanism, that was detected for up to 40 wk after infection. Worm-induced anergy was mediated by splenic F4/80+ macrophages (Mφ) via an IL-4-, IL-13-, IL-10-, TGF-β-, and NO-independent, but cell contact-dependent, mechanism. F4/80+ Mφ isolated from worm-infected mice were shown to induce anergy of naive T cells in vitro. Furthermore, naive Mφ exposed to live worms in vitro also induced anergy in naive T cells. Flow cytometry on in vivo and in vitro worm-modulated Mφ revealed that of the family of B7 costimulatory molecules, only programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1) was selectively up-regulated. The addition of inhibitory mAb against PD-L1, but not PD-L2, to worm-modulated Mφ completely blocked the ability of these cells to anergize T cells. These data highlight a novel mechanism through which S. mansoni worms have usurped the natural function of PD-L1 to reduce T cell activation during early acute stages of infection before the subsequent emergence of egg-induced T cell suppression in the chronic stages of infection.