• Joanna Klementowicz

    Student thesis: Phd


    Infection with human gastrointestinal (GI) parasites, such as Trichuris trichiura, affects more than billion people worldwide, causing significant morbidity and health problems especially in poverty-stricken developing countries. Despite extensive research, the mechanisms of induction and regulation of effector immune responses against these parasites are incompletely understood, which hinders the development of anti-parasite therapies. Infection with GI parasite is usually chronic suggesting that parasites are capable of modulating immune responses of their host to prevent expulsion. However, mechanisms by which parasites control host immunity to allow infection are still ill-defined. The aim of this PhD study was to characterise the role of different immunoregulatory mechanisms in immunity to GI parasite infection, with a focus on dendritic cells (DCs), regulatory T cells (Tregs) and the regulatory cytokine transforming growth factor β (TGF-β).Here we showed for the first time that loss of TGF-β-activating integrin alphavβ8 specifically on DCs resulted in protection from chronic infection with Trichuris muris, a mouse model of T. trichiura infection in man. Accelerated expulsion was immune-mediated and although increased levels of protective Th2 cytokines were observed very early during infection, elevated levels of non-protective Th1 cytokines were also detected. Partial depletion of CD4+ or FcεRI+ cells had no effect on the observed phenotype. Since deletion of alphavβ8 on DCs results in decreased numbers of Tregs in the gut, we tested whether depletion of Tregs using a mouse model that allows conditional ablation of Foxp3+ Tregs (DEREG mice) would alter infection development. Although transient Treg depletion at the beginning of infection had no major effect on expulsion kinetics, we observed a tendency for enhanced Th2 responses in DEREG mice. Moreover, even though DC-mediated TGF-β activation via alphavβ8 integrin was essential for T. muris infection development, transient depletion of DCs had no effect on the induction of Th2 responses or parasite expulsion. These data indicate a novel role for the TGF-β-activating integrin alphavβ8 and DCs in regulating effector immune responses during T. muris infection and may contribute to the development of new anti-parasite therapies.
    Date of Award1 Aug 2012
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • The University of Manchester
    SupervisorRichard Grencis (Supervisor) & Mark Travis (Supervisor)


    • integrin
    • regulatory T cell
    • dendritic cell
    • Trichuris muris
    • TGF-ß

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