The role of gamma interferon in the generation of human macrophages cytotoxic for Entamoeba histolytica trophozoites
Upon exposure to Entamoeba histolytica antigen, lymphocytes from patients treated for amebic liver abscess produce lymphokines which activate monocyte-derived macrophages to kill E. histolytica trophozoites. We now demonstrate that gamma interferon (IFN-gamma) is produced by these stimulated lymphocytes and is sufficient but not exclusively necessary to activate monocyte-derived macrophage amebicidal activity. Supernatants from mononuclear cells of 7 patients when stimulated with amebic antigen contained more IFN-gamma than comparable supernatants derived from control cells (1,862 U/ml vs. 174 U/ml geometric means, P less than 0.01); IFN-gamma levels were similar in patient and control supernatants following concanavalin A stimulation. Macrophages activated solely by partially purified IFN-gamma or recombinant human IFN-gamma (300 U/ml) killed 47% of virulent amebae by 6 hr at 37 degrees C. Monocyte-derived macrophages stimulated with lymphokines elicited by amebic antigen or concanavalin A killed 48% and 57% of axenic E. histolytica trophozoites, respectively, over 6 hr at 37 degrees C (P less than 0.001 for each compared to control). Macrophages incubated with the identical lymphokines, but in the presence of monoclonal antibody to IFN-gamma, were only able to kill 18% and 27% of amebae, respectively, at 6 hr (P less than 0.05 to control or when antibody to IFN-gamma was not present). If antibody to IFN-gamma was added to the stimulating lymphokine, more macrophages died during interaction with amebae (P less than 0.05). In summary, IFN-gamma has a major but not exclusive role in activating human monocyte-derived macrophages in vitro to kill virulent E. histolytica trophozoites.