While it is well established that infection with the rodent hookworm Nippostrongylus brasiliensis induces a strongly polarized Th2 immune response, little is known about the innate host-parasite interactions that lead to the development of this robust Th2 immunity. We exploited the transient pulmonary phase of N. brasiliensis development to study the innate immune responses induced by this helminth parasite in wild-type (WT) and severe-combined immune deficient (SCID) BALB/c mice. Histological analysis demonstrated that the cellular infiltrates caused by N. brasiliensis transit through the lungs were quickly resolved in WT mice but not in SCID mice. Microarray-based gene expression analysis demonstrated that there was a rapid induction of genes encoding molecules that participate in innate immunity and in repair/remodeling during days 2 to 4 postinfection in the lungs of WT and SCID mice. Of particular note was the rapid upregulation in both WT and SCID mice of the genes encoding YM1, FIZZ1, and Arg1, indicating a role for alternatively activated macrophages (AAMs) in pulmonary innate immunity. Immunohistochemistry revealed that nearly all alveolar macrophages became YM1-producing AAMs as early as day 2 postinfection. While the innate responses induced during the lung phase of N. brasiliensis infection were similar in complexity and magnitude in WT and SCID mice, only mice with functional T cells were capable of maintaining elevated levels of gene expression beyond the innate window of reactivity. The induction of alternatively activated alveolar macrophages could be important for dampening the level of inflammation in the lungs and contribute to the long-term decrease in pulmonary inflammation that has been associated with helminth infections.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases