1. National Institute of Parasitic Diseases, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention; Key Laboratory of Parasite and Vector Biology, MOH, China; WHO Collaborating Center for Malaria, Schistosomiasis and Filariasis, Shanghai 200025, PR China
2. Department of Pathogenic Biology, Binzhou Medical University, Yantai, 264003, Shandong, China
The current knowledge of immunological responses to schistosomiasis is insufficient for the development of vaccine and therapies. The role of T follicular helper (Tfh) cells in schistosome infections is not fully defined. The frequency of circulating Tfh cells and serum cytokine levels were analyzed in 11 patients with chronic schistosomiasis and 10 healthy controls (HC), who reside in an endemic area for Schistosomiasis japonicum. Significantly higher frequencies of circulating CXCR5+ CD4+ Tfh cells and higher expression levels of ICOS and PD-1 in CXCR5+ CD4+ Tfh cells were observed in patients with chronic schistosomiasis compared to HC. The levels of IL-21 in serum and the expression of IL-21 mRNA were higher in chronic schistosomiasis patients than in HC. Moreover, the frequency of circulating PD-1high CXCR5+ CD4+ Tfh cells positively correlated with the levels of IL-21 in serum from patients with chronic schistosomiasis. A positive correlation was also found between the frequency of PD-1high CXCR5+ CD4+ Tfh cells and the levels of soluble egg antigen (SEA)-specific antibodies in serum samples from the patient group. Our study is the first regarding Tfh cells in chronic human schistosomiasis and the finding indicate that PD-1high CXCR5+ CD4+Tfh cells might play an important role in the production of specific antibodies in schistosomiasis. This study contributes to the understanding of immune response to schistosomiasis and may provide helpful support in vaccine development.
Keywords: T follicular helper cells, schistosomiasis, specific antibody, blood.