Background: Clinical and epidemiological studies have suggested the development of acquired immunity in individuals previously infected with Giardia lamblia. However, there are no data on the long-term cellular immunity and genotype cross-reactivity. An outbreak of assemblage B giardiasis in a nonendemic area made it possible to evaluate the long-term cellular mediated immunity and its specificity toward the 2 Giardia assemblages known to infect humans.
Methods: Peripheral blood mononuclear cells from 19 individuals infected with Giardia assemblage B 5 years previously and from 10 uninfected controls were cultured with antigens from assemblage A and B Giardia trophozoites for 6 days. Cell-mediated immunity was measured by a (3)H-thymidine proliferation assay and flow cytometric analysis of activation markers HLA-DR, CD45RO, CD25, and CD26 in T-cell subsets.
Results: Proliferation responses were significantly elevated in the group previously exposed to Giardia for nearly all Giardia antigens tested. Individual responses toward Giardia trophozoite whole cell, cytosolic, and excretory-secretory antigens from both assemblages correlated well. Activation marker responses were mainly seen in CD4 T cells.
Conclusions: G. lamblia infection induces long-term, albeit variable, cellular immune responses that are not assemblage specific and that are largely driven by CD4 T-cell activation.