In schistosomiasis patients, parasite eggs trapped in hepatic sinusoids become foci for CD4 + T cell-orchestrated granulomatous cellular infiltrates. Since the immune response is unable to clear the infection, the liver is subjected to ongoing cycles of focal inflammation and healing that lead to vascular obstruction and tissue fibrosis. This is mitigated by regulatory mechanisms that develop over time and which minimize the inflammatory response to newly deposited eggs. Exploring changes in the hepatic inflammatory infiltrate over time in infected mice, we found an accumulation of schistosome egg antigen-specific IgG1-secreting plasma cells during chronic infection. This population was significantly diminished by blockade of the receptor for IL-10, a cytokine implicated in plasma cell development. Strikingly, IL-10R blockade precipitated the development of portal hypertension and the accumulation of parasite eggs in the lungs and heart. This did not reflect more aggressive Th2 cell responsiveness, increased hepatic fibrosis, or the emergence of Th1 or Th17 responses. Rather, a role for antibody in the prevention of severe disease was suggested by the finding that pulmonary involvement was also apparent in mice unable to secrete class switched antibody. A major effect of anti-IL-10R treatment was the loss of a myeloid population that stained positively for surface IgG1, and which exhibited characteristics of regulatory/anti-inflammatory macrophages. This finding suggests that antibody may promote protective effects within the liver through local interactions with macrophages. In summary, our data describe a role for IL-10-dependent B cell responses in the regulation of tissue damage during a chronic helminth infection.
Schistosomiasis is a chronic disease that affects approximately 200 million people. Immune modulation is a hallmark of chronic disease and serves to protect the host from severe pathology. A significant percentage of people infected with schistosomiasis fail to undergo this protective modulation and can develop portal hypertension with resulting pulmonary complications. Here we show that schistosome-specific antibody-secreting B cells accumulate in the liver as the infection progresses to the chronic state and that this accumulation is dependent on the cytokine Interleukin-10. Blocking the IL-10R results in not only the loss of B cells from the liver, but also the development of severe pulmonary pathology. We found similar changes in disease progression in mice genetically unable to mount normal antibody responses. We believe that antibody is important for triggering the production of anti-inflammatory factors, including IL-10 itself, by other immune cells called macrophages. Our data suggest that during chronic schistosomiasis IL-10 promotes the development of a population of B cells within the liver that is responsible for minimizing inflammation and preventing the development of disease in the lungs. Our findings provide a mouse model that may be of use for studying the development of pulmonary complications due to chronic schistosomiasis.