CD4-mediated and CD8-mediated cytotoxic and proliferative immune responses to Toxoplasma gondii in seropositive humans

Matthew B. Purner, Randolph L. Berens, Paul B. Nash, Annamie Van Linden, Elise Ross, Carol Kruse, Edward C. Krug, Tyler J. Curiel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Both CD4+ and CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) are part of the human immune response to Toxoplasma gondii infection. To further our understanding of Toxoplasma immunity, we investigated factors influencing stimulation of CD4+ or CD8+ human T. gondii-specific immune cells. Both antigen-pulsed and Toxoplasma-infected antigen-presenting cells (APC) induced cell proliferation. Toxoplasma-infected APC elicited strong proliferation of CD4+ cells, but little or no proliferation of CD8+ cells, unless high antigen loads were used. Toxoplasma-infected APC stimulated specific cytotoxicity poorly or not at all, owing to death of stimulated cultures, whereas antigen- pulsed APC strongly elicited specific cytotoxicity. Cytotoxicity elicited by either type of APC resided exclusively in CD4+ T cells in polyclonal cultures. Thus, Toxoplasma-infected APC elicited stronger CD4-mediated than CD8-mediated cell proliferation and generated CD4+ CTL more readily than CD8+ CTL. Nonetheless, specific CD8+ memory cells were demonstrated, and rare CD8+ Toxoplasma-specific CTL were subcloned. Fixed Toxoplasma-infected APC (which induce CD8+ CTL) also elicited cell proliferation, but polyclonal cultures stimulated with these infected APC did not die. Unfixed Toxoplasma- infected APC strongly inhibited phytohemagglutinin-induced cell proliferation, whereas fixed APC did not. These data suggested that infected APC were inhibitory or lethal to some immune cells. Further investigations into interactions between immune cells and Toxoplasma-infected cells likely will help elucidate factors involved in the immunopathogenesis of Toxoplasma infection. As other intracellular parasites, including Plasmodium spp. and Leishmania spp., also elicit CD4+ CTL, such work may help establish paradigms governing immunity to intracellular parasites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4330-4338
Number of pages9
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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