Polyfunctional Specific Response to Echinococcus Granulosus Associates to the Biological Activity of the Cysts

Linda Petrone, Valentina Vanini, Elisa Petruccioli, Giuseppe Maria Ettorre, Vincenzo Schininà, Elisa Busi Rizzi, Alessandra Ludovisi, Angela Corpolongo, Giuseppe Ippolito, Edoardo Pozio, Antonella Teggi, Delia Goletti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Cystic echinococcosis (CE) is a complex disease caused by Echinococcus granulosus (E.granulosus), and its immunophatogenesis is still not clearly defined. A peculiar feature of chronic CE is the coexistence of Th1 and Th2 responses. It has been suggested that Th1 cytokines are related to disease resistance, whereas Th2 cytokines are related to disease susceptibility and chronicity. The aim of this study was to evaluate, by multi-parametric flow cytometry (FACS), the presence of CE specific immune signatures. Methodology/Principal Findings: We enrolled 54 subjects with suspected CE; 42 of them had a confirmed diagnosis, whereas 12 were classified as NO-CE. Based on the ultrasonography images, CE patients were further categorized as being in "active stages" (25) and "inactive stages" (17). The ability of CD4+ T-cells to produce IFN-γ, IL-2, TNF-α, Th2 cytokines or IL-10 was assessed by FACS on antigen-specific T-cells after overnight stimulation with Antigen B (AgB) of E.granulosus. Cytokine profiles were evaluated in all the enrolled subjects. The results show that none of the NO-CE subjects had a detectable AgB-specific response. Among the CE patients, the frequency and proportions of AgB-specific CD4+ T-cells producing IL-2+TNF-α+Th2+ or TNF-α+Th2+ were significantly increased in the “active stages” group compared to the “inactive stages” group. Moreover, an increased proportion of the total polyfunctional subsets, as triple-and double-functional CD4 T-cells, was found in CE patients with active disease. The response to the mitogen, used as a control stimulus to evaluate the immune competence status, was characterized by the same cytokine subsets in all the subjects enrolled, independent of CE. Conclusions: We demonstrate, for the first time to our knowledge, that polyfunctional T-cell subsets as IL-2+TNF-α+Th2+ triple-positive and TNF-α+Th2+ double-positive specific T-cells associate with cyst biological activity. These results contribute to increase knowledge of CE immunophatogenesis and the disease outcome in terms of control and persistence.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0004209
JournalPLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 17 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)


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