Adaptive immune response in symptomatic and asymptomatic enteric protozoal infection: evidence for a determining role of parasite genetic heterogeneity in host immunity to human giardiasis

Microbes Infect. 2016 Nov;18(11):687-695. doi: 10.1016/j.micinf.2016.06.009. Epub 2016 Jul 8.


The genetic basis of the ultimate clinical outcomes of human giardiasis has been the subject of numerous investigations. We previously demonstrated roles for both host and parasite factors in determining the outcome of enteric infection in a murine model of Giardia duodenalis infection. In the current study, fecal and serum specimens from healthy controls and human subjects infected with the intestinal parasite G. duodenalis were assessed. Using a semi-nested PCR method, clinical isolates were genetically characterized based on the gdh and tpi loci, and the phylogenetic trees were constructed. Using a sandwich ELISA method, the serum levels of representative TH1 and TH2 cytokines were measured in infected human subjects and healthy controls. Here we showed that symptomatic human giardiasis was characterized by significantly elevated serum levels of the TH1 cytokine IFN-γ compared to healthy controls, whereas asymptomatic human subjects and healthy controls had comparable levels of serum IFN-γ. Further analyses showed that human subjects infected with G. duodenalis genotype AI had significantly elevated levels of serum IFN-γ and IL-10, but not IL-5, whereas human subjects infected with AII had similar levels of those cytokines compared to healthy controls. These data demonstrate roles for both host and parasite factors in the determination of the outcome of enteric infections and may further broaden our understanding of host-parasite interaction during enteric protozoal infections.

Keywords: Cytokines; Giardia duodenalis; Human; Protozoa.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Cytokines / blood
  • DNA, Protozoan / genetics
  • Feces / parasitology
  • Female
  • Genetic Heterogeneity*
  • Genotype
  • Giardia lamblia / genetics*
  • Giardia lamblia / immunology*
  • Giardiasis / immunology*
  • Giardiasis / parasitology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Phylogeny
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Th1 Cells / immunology
  • Th2 Cells / immunology
  • Young Adult


  • Cytokines
  • DNA, Protozoan