Immune responses to third stage larvae of Onchocerca volvulus in interferon-gamma and interleukin-4 knockout mice

Parasite Immunol. 1998 Jul;20(7):319-24. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-3024.1998.00148.x.


To shed clarity on the dichotomy of reported results relative to the significance of T helper-1 vs T helper-2 immune responses in onchocerciasis, we compared the survivability of Onchocerca volvulus third-stage larvae (L3) in immunized mice that had either a targeted disruption of the Interleukin-4 or Interferon-gamma gene. Treatment groups consisted of control mice and mice immunized with irradiated O. volvulus L3. All mice were challenged with diffusion chambers containing viable L3. Vaccinated IL-4-/- were unable to kill this larval target. In contrast, vaccinated INF-gamma-/- and C57BL/6 mice, exhibited high levels of killing, had elevated levels of IL-4 and significantly greater numbers of eosinophils in their diffusion chambers than the IL-4-/-. Whereas, levels of IFN-gamma in all three groups of immunized mice were equivalent to those of control mice, levels of IL-5 were elevated, even in the IL-4-/-, indicating that cytokines other than IL-4 were involved in its production. The protective immune response to third-stage larvae of O. volvulus in mice vaccinated with irradiated larvae has an absolute IL-4 requirement.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diffusion Chambers, Culture
  • Immunization
  • Interferon-gamma / analysis
  • Interferon-gamma / genetics
  • Interferon-gamma / immunology*
  • Interleukin-4 / analysis
  • Interleukin-4 / genetics
  • Interleukin-4 / immunology*
  • Interleukin-5 / analysis
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Onchocerca volvulus / immunology*
  • Onchocerciasis / immunology*


  • Interleukin-5
  • Interleukin-4
  • Interferon-gamma