Chronic Chagas' disease cardiomyopathy patients display an increased IFN-gamma response to Trypanosoma cruzi infection

J Autoimmun. 2001 Aug;17(1):99-107. doi: 10.1006/jaut.2001.0523.


One-third of all Trypanosoma cruzi -infected patients eventually develop chronic Chagas' disease cardiomyopathy (CCC), a particularly lethal inflammatory dilated cardiomyopathy, where parasites are scarce and heart-infiltrating mononuclear cells seem to be the effectors of tissue damage. Since T. cruzi is a major inducer of interleukin-12 production, the role of inflammatory cytokines in the pathogenesis of CCC was investigated. We assayed cytokine production by peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from CCC and asymptomatic T. cruzi -infected (ASY) individuals, as well as by T cell lines from endomyocardial biopsies from CCC patients. PBMC from CCC and ASY patients produced higher IFN-gamma levels than normal (N) individuals in response to B13 protein and phytohaemagglutinin PHA; IFN-gamma high responders (> or =1 ng/ml) were 2-3 fold more frequent among CCC patients than ASY individuals. Conversely, IL-4 production in response to the same stimuli was suppressed among T. cruzi -infected patients. The frequency of PHA-induced IFN gammaproducing cells on PBMC was significantly higher among CCC than ASY and N individuals. IFN-gamma and TNF-alpha were produced by ten out of ten PHAstimulated T cell lines from CCC patients; IL-2 and IL-10 were produced by four out of ten and one out of ten lines, respectively; IL-4, IL-1alpha, IL-1beta, IL-6 and IL-12 were undetectable. Our results suggest that CCC and ASY patients may respond differentially to the IFN-gamma-inducing stimulus provided by T. cruzi infection. Given the T(1)-type cytokine profile of heart-infiltrating T cell lines from CCC patients, the ability to mount a vigorous IFN-gamma response may play a role on the differential susceptibility to CCC development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Movement / immunology
  • Chagas Cardiomyopathy / immunology*
  • Chagas Cardiomyopathy / pathology
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / biosynthesis*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardium / immunology
  • Myocardium / pathology
  • Th1 Cells / immunology
  • Th1 Cells / metabolism
  • Th2 Cells / immunology
  • Th2 Cells / metabolism
  • Trypanosoma cruzi / immunology*


  • Cytokines
  • Interferon-gamma