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Setting in motion the immune mechanisms underlying genetically determined resistance and susceptibility to infection with Leishmania major.
The murine model of infection with Leishmania major has allowed the demonstration of a causal relationship between, on the one hand, genetically determined resistance to infection and the development of a Th1 CD4+ cell response, and on the other hand, genetically determined susceptibility and Th2 cell maturation. Using this murine model of infection, the role of cytokines in directing the functional differentiation pathway of CD4+ T cell precursors, has been demonstrated in vivo. Thus, IL-12 and IFN-gamma have been shown to favour Th1 cell development and IL-4 is crucial for the differentiation of Th2 responses. Maturation of a Th2 response in susceptible BALB/c mice following infection with L. major is triggered by the IL-4 produced during the first two days after parasite inoculation. This IL-4 rapidly renders parasite specific CD4+ T cells precursors unresponsive to IL-12. A restricted population of CD4+ T cells expressing the V beta 4V alpha 8 TCR heterodimer and recognizing a single epitope on the LACK (Leishmania Activated C-Kinase) antigen of L. major is responsible for this rapid production of IL-4, instructing subsequent differentiation towards the Th2 phenotype of CD4+ T cells specific for several parasite antigens.
Animals, CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes/immunology, Cell Differentiation, Genetic Predisposition to Disease, Humans, Immunity, Innate/genetics, Interleukin-4/biosynthesis, Intracellular Fluid, Leishmania major/immunology, Leishmaniasis, Cutaneous/genetics, Leishmaniasis, Cutaneous/immunology, Mice, Mice, Inbred BALB C, Th1 Cells/immunology, Th2 Cells/cytology, Th2 Cells/immunology
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