• Co-stimulatory molecule;
  • CD28;
  • Th1/Th2 subset;
  • Schistosomiasis


Engagement of CD28 on T cells provides a co-stimulatory signal necessary for T cell activation and differentiation. Recent findings suggest that priming of T helper (Th)2 cells is more dependent on CD28 activation than Th1 cells. The present study examines whether mice that lack expression of CD28 as a result of gene targeting are capable of generating a Th2 response characteristic during infection with the intravascular trematode parasite Schistosoma mansoni. Mutant and control mice were either inoculated in the footpad with S. mansoni eggs (a potent inducer of a Th2 response) or infected percutaneously with the parasite. Draining lymph nodes (after footpad injection) or spleen cells (after natural infection) were harvested at 12 days and 8 weeks, respectively, and examined for cytokine responses to egg antigens. CD28-deficient mice (−/−) generated diminished egg antigen-driven interleukin (IL)-4 and IL-5 production (by 5- to 17-fold, respectively) compared to CD28-expressing (+/+) littermates. In contrast, lymphocyte proliferation and interferon (IFN)-γ production to egg antigens were equivalent for mutant and control mice. Infected CD28−/− mice also had reduced immunoglobulin secretion. Serum levels of parasite antigen-specific IgG1 and polyclonal IgE were significantly diminished in CD28−/− compared to CD28+/+ mice. Lack of CD28 expression had no effect on granuloma formation around eggs trapped in the liver, but increased susceptibility of mice to primary schistosomiasis infection. These studies indicate that CD28 activation contributes to T cell priming required for generation of a Th2 response to an intravascular dwelling helminth parasite.