Macrophages initiate, modulate, and also serve as final effector cells in immune responses during the course of schistosomal infections. In this study, we investigated the gene expression profile and functional changes of macrophages in immune responses against the Schistosoma japonicum by microarray analysis. Hierarchical clustering analysis demonstrated that a significant switch in gene transformation associated with a type-1 response and linked with a type-2 cytokine phenotype occurs between 4.5 and 8 weeks post-infection. Moreover, the gene profiles at 3 later time-points following egg challenge were similar in complexity and magnitude. The data also showed that there were mostly inhibition of gene expression related TLR, IFN, MHC and TNFrsf at the switch between 4.5 and 8 weeks post-infection, It is suggested that these immunomodulatory genes may be down-regulated in defense against S. japonicum eggs and granuloma pathology. The induction of alternatively activated macrophage (AAMφ) was important for dampening the inflammation in hepatic granulomas and contributing to a decrease in cytotoxicity. The gene expressions involved in repair/remodeling during liver fibrosis were also observed after egg production. Understanding the immune mechanisms associated with parasitic resistance, pathology of parasite infection, and parasite growth will provide useful insight on host-schistosome interactions and for the control of schistosomiasis.
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