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Infection and Immunity


Suppression of the T-cell lymphoproliferative response and downregulation of interleukin 2 (IL-2) production by Toxoplasma gondii has been observed following in vivo infection. In this study, an experimental in vitro murine system was developed to evaluate the kinetics of these responses. Normal splenocytes from uninfected mice were stimulated with either concanavalin A or an anti-CD3 monoclonal antibody and cocultured with Toxoplasma tachyzoites either directly or separated by a transwell. A progressive decline in the lymphoproliferative response was observed as the concentration of parasites in culture increased. Neither heat-killed nor formaldehyde-fixed parasites stimulated this downregulatory response by the splenocytes. A decline in IL-2 production was associated with the decrease in lymphocyte proliferation. The addition of an antibody to IL-10 or heat-inactivated anti-Toxoplasma sera to the culture supernatant partially neutralized the inhibitory effect on lymphocyte proliferation. Cytokine analysis of the responder splenocytes demonstrated a decrease in the message for IL-2 and IL-2 receptor and an increase in IL-10. Together, these observations suggest that during in vitro culture in a murine system, parasite antigens that stimulate the release of a soluble factor(s), such as IL-10, that inhibits proliferation of mitogen-stimulated T cells are expressed.