Characteristics of IL-17 induction by Schistosoma japonicum infection in C57BL/6 mouse liver


Correspondence: Dr J Huang, Department of Pathogenic Biology and Immunology, Guangzhou Medical College, 510182 Guangzhou, China. E-mail:


Schistosomiasis japonica is a severe tropical disease caused by the parasitic worm Schistosoma japonicum. Among the most serious pathological effects of S. japonicum infection are hepatic lesions (cirrhosis and fibrosis) and portal hypertension. Interleukin-17 (IL-17) is a pro-inflammatory cytokine involved in the pathogenesis of many inflammatory and infectious conditions, including schistosomiasis. We infected C57BL/6 mice with S. japonicum and isolated lymphocytes from the liver to identify cell subsets with high IL-17 expression and release using flow cytometry and ELISA. Expression and release of IL-17 was significantly higher in hepatic lymphocytes from infected mice compared with control mice in response to both non-specific stimulation with anti-CD3 monoclonal antibody plus/anti-CD28 monoclonal antibody and PMA plus ionomycin. We then compared IL-17 expression in three hepatic T-cell subsets, T helper, natural killer T and γδT cells, to determine the major source of IL-17 during infection. Interleukin-17 was induced in all three subsets by PMA + ionomycin, but γδT lymphocytes exhibited the largest increase in expression. We then established a mouse model to further investigate the role of IL-17 in granulomatous and fibrosing inflammation against parasite eggs. Reducing IL-17 activity using anti-IL-17A antibodies decreased infiltration of inflammatory cells and collagen deposition in the livers of infected C57BL/6 mice. The serum levels of soluble egg antigen (IL) -specific IgGs were enhanced by anti-IL-17A monoclonal antibody blockade, suggesting that IL-17 normally serves to suppress this humoral response. These findings suggest that γδT cells are the most IL-17-producing cells and that IL-17 contributes to granulomatous inflammatory and fibrosing reactions in S. japonicum-infected C57BL/6 mouse liver.