The effect of challenge and trickle Trichuris muris infections on the polarisation of the immune response

Int J Parasitol. 2001 Dec;31(14):1627-37. doi: 10.1016/s0020-7519(01)00281-8.


In the field, determination of mechanisms of immunity to geohelminths are problematic due to the variation in infection exposure, host genetics, nutrition and co-infection. This study uses a well defined laboratory model, Trichuris muris in the mouse to study immune responses to challenge and trickle infections. The rationale is thus to study parasite acquisition under more natural antigen dose exposure. Antigen dose has previously been shown in this system to affect the outcome of infection with low antigen doses favouring type 1 responses (and susceptibility) and high antigen doses favouring type 2 responses (and resistance). A high level challenge infection could be established in a normally resistant host but only following priming of the immune response by a low level infection. Once type 2 responses were initiated it was impossible to switch an ongoing type 2 response even using IL-12 which is a potent stimulus of type 1 responses. Trickle infections resulted in no clear polarisation of the immune response. It was possible to build up the level of infection to a threshold level beyond which type 2 responses and expulsion were initiated. This threshold level was dependent upon host genetic background. Our results reveal a complex spectrum of responses and demonstrate that resistance and type 2 responses can be built up with increasing parasite exposure. The data provide compelling evidence to support a role for acquisition of acquired immunity to gastro-intestinal nematodes under complex infection patterns such as those found in the field.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Helminth / biosynthesis
  • Antibodies, Helminth / blood
  • Antibody Formation / immunology
  • Cytokines / analysis
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Trichuriasis / immunology*
  • Trichuriasis / metabolism
  • Trichuriasis / parasitology
  • Trichuris / immunology*


  • Antibodies, Helminth
  • Cytokines