Author(s): Lotter H, Jacobs T, Gaworski I, Tannich E
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Abstract Amebic liver abscess (ALA) is the most common extraintestinal manifestation of human infection by the enteric protozoan parasite Entamoeba histolytica. In contrast to intestinal infection, ALA greatly predominates in males but is rare in females. Since humans are the only relevant host for E. histolytica, experimental studies concerning this sexual dimorphism have been hampered by the lack of a suitable animal model. By serial liver passage of cultured E. histolytica trophozoites in gerbils and mice, we generated amebae which reproducibly induce ALA in C57BL/6 mice. Interestingly, all animals developed ALA, but the time courses of abscess formation differed significantly between the genders. Female mice were able to clear the infection within 3 days, whereas in male mice the parasite could be recovered for at least 14 days. Accordingly, male mice showed a prolonged time of recovery from ALA. Immunohistology of abscesses revealed that polymorphonuclear leukocytes and macrophages were the dominant infiltrates, but in addition, gamma,delta-T cells, NK cells, and natural killer T (NKT) cells were also present at early times during abscess development, whereas conventional alpha,beta-T cells appeared later, when female mice had already cleared the parasite. Interestingly, male and female mice differed in early cytokine production in response to ameba infection. Enzyme-linked immunospot assays performed with spleen cells of infected animals revealed significantly higher numbers of interleukin-4-producing cells in male mice but significantly higher numbers of gamma interferon (IFN-gamma)-producing cells in female mice. Early IFN-gamma production and the presence of functional NKT cells were found to be important for the control of hepatic amebiasis as application of an IFN-gamma-neutralizing monoclonal antibody or the use of NKT knockout mice (Valpha14iNKT, Jalpha 18(-/-)) dramatically increased the size of ALA in female mice. In addition, E. histolytica trophozoites could be reisolated from liver abscesses of Jalpha18(-/-) mice on day 7 postinfection, when wild-type mice had already cleared the parasite. These data suggest that the sexual dimorphism in the control of ALA is due to gender-specific differences in early cytokine production mediated at least in part by NKT cells in response to E. histolytica infection of the liver.
This article was published in Infect Immun
and referenced in Journal of Cell Science & Therapy