Circulating cytokine levels and antibody responses to human Schistosoma haematobium: IL-5 and IL-10 levels depend upon age and infection status

T. Milner, L. Reilly, N. Nausch, N. Midzi, T. Mduluza, R. Maizels, F. Mutapi

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P>Experimental schistosome infections induce strong parasite-specific Th2 responses. This study aims to relate human systemic cytokine and antibody levels to schistosome infection levels and history. Levels of anti-Schistosoma haematobium antibodies (directed against crude cercariae, egg and adult worm antigens) and plasma cytokines (IFN-gamma, IL-2, IL-4, IL-5, IL-10, IL-13, IL-17, IL-21, and IL-23) were measured by ELISA in 227 Zimbabweans (6-60 years old) in a schistosome-endemic area and related to age and infection status. Egg-positive people had significantly higher levels of specific antibodies, IL-2, IFN-gamma and IL-23. In contrast, egg-negative individuals had significantly higher circulating IL-10, IL-4, IL-13 and IL-21 that were detected with high frequency in all participants. Subjects with detectable plasma IL-17 produced few or no eggs. When analyzed by age, IL-4 and IL-10 increased significantly, as did schistosome-specific antibodies. However, when age was combined with infection status, IL-5 declined over time in egg-positive people, while increased with age in the egg-negative group. Older, lifelong residents had significantly higher IL-4 and IL-5 levels than younger egg-negative people. Thus, a mixed Th1/Th2 systemic environment occurs in people with patent schistosome infection, while a stronger Th2-dominated suite of cytokines is evident in egg-negative individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)710-721
Number of pages12
JournalParasite Immunology
Issue number11-12
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • antibody
  • Helminth
  • human
  • schistosomiasis
  • systemic cytokine

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