• Helminth;
  • Antigen-presenting cell;
  • Naïve T cell;
  • Macrophage;
  • Transforming growth factor-β


A key feature of nematode infection is a bias towards a type 2 immune response. To investigate the role that antigen-presenting cells (APC) may play in promoting this bias, we used adherent peritoneal exudate cells (PEC) recruited in response to the filarial nematode Brugia malayi, to stimulate naïve T cells from pigeon cytochrome c (PCC)-specific TCR transgenic (PCC-tg) mice. Although the proliferation of PCC-tg T cells was inhibited by parasite- induced PEC during primary stimulation, they proliferated normally upon secondary stimulation and were not rendered anergic. However, PCC-tg T cells primed by suppressive APC differentiated into IL-4-producing Th2 cells upon secondary stimulation instead of IFN-γ-producing Th1 cells, as has been previously described. Studies with carboxyfluorescein diacetate succinimidyl ester (CFSE)-labeled cells indicated that Th2 differentiation was associated with the inhibition of (or failure to stimulate) IFN-γ production during primary stimulation. Interestingly, blocking antibodies against TGF-β (but not IL-10) restored the differentiation of IFN-γ-producing Th1 cells. Identical results with CFSE-labeled cells were obtained using purified IL-4-dependent F4/80+ macrophages. These data indicate that T cells exposed to parasite-induced alternatively activated macrophages are driven towards Th2 differentiation. This may be an important factor in the Th2 bias that accompanies nematode infection.