In infection with the helminth Schistosoma mansoni, parasite eggs elicit a Th cell-mediated hepatic granulomatous inflammation that leads to scarring, portal hypertension, hemorrhage, and death. On the other hand, the cytokine IL-10 has been shown to decrease egg Ag-specific Th cell responses by down-regulating MHC class II as well as B7 costimulatory molecule expression on accessory cells. We now test the effect of IL-10 in vivo on models of egg Ag-specific hypersensitivity as well as on the natural disease. Systemic administration of IL-10 significantly inhibited delayed-type hypersensitivity reactions to egg Ag as well as primary and secondary granuloma formation to eggs embolized in the lung. However, significant inhibition of hepatic granuloma formation associated with the natural infection required the use of an IL-10/Fc fusion protein with a prolonged in vivo half-life. Lymph node cells from IL-10/Fc-treated mice produced less IL-2 and IFN-gamma, and more IL-4 and IL-10 than control cells, suggesting that reduced egg granuloma formation resulted primarily from down-regulation of Th1 responses. These results indicate that suitable administration of exogenous IL-10 can be effective in ameliorating immunopathologic damage associated with schistosomiasis.

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