Cellular immune responses and cytokine production in BALB/c and C57BL/6 mice during the acute phase of Angiostrongylus costaricensis infection

Acta Trop. 2001 Sep 1;80(1):59-68. doi: 10.1016/s0001-706x(01)00153-x.


In our experimental study we were able to show that the contrasting outcome of Angiostrongylus costaricensis infection in C57BL/6 and BALB/c mice, in respect of morbidity and mortality, can be explained by divergent cellular immune responses and a different cytokine pattern in each strain. In BALB/c mice (i.e. those with high mortality), the initial high proliferation of ConA or LPS stimulated spleen cells dropped to very low levels after 2 weeks post-infection (p.i.), whereas in C57BL/6 mice (i.e. those with low mortality), only a minor reduction in lymphoproliferative responses after mitogenic stimulation was observed. The specific proliferation of spleen cells after stimulation with A. costaricensis adult worm antigen remained low in BALB/c mice throughout the experiment, but showed an augmented proliferation in C57BL/6 mice, especially from 2 weeks p.i. onwards. The mitogen-induced production of Th2-type cytokines (IL-4, IL-5, IL-6, IL-10) in spleen cell cultures remained low in BALB/c mice until 4 weeks p.i., but production of Th1-type cytokines (IL-2, IFN-gamma) was highly elevated at 14 and 28 days p.i. In C57BL/6 mice, an upregulated and balanced production of both Th1- and Th2-type cytokines was measured during the course of infection. In summary, a polarization of the immune response towards cellular hyporesponsiveness and a predominantly Th1 cytokine profile was observed in A. costaricensis infected BALB/c mice, which may contribute to pathogenesis and increased morbidity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Angiostrongylus*
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Helminth / blood*
  • Antibody Formation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytokines / analysis
  • Cytokines / immunology*
  • Female
  • Interferon-gamma / analysis
  • Interferon-gamma / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-10 / analysis
  • Interleukin-10 / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-2 / analysis
  • Interleukin-2 / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-4 / analysis
  • Interleukin-4 / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-5 / analysis
  • Interleukin-5 / biosynthesis
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mitogens
  • Spleen / immunology*
  • Strongylida Infections / immunology*
  • Strongylida Infections / parasitology
  • Strongylida Infections / pathology
  • Time Factors


  • Antibodies, Helminth
  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-2
  • Interleukin-5
  • Mitogens
  • Interleukin-10
  • Interleukin-4
  • Interferon-gamma