Defect in the tissue cellular immune response: Experimental visceral leishmaniasis in euthymic C57BL/6 ep/ep mice
In BALB/c mice, successful defense against visceral leishmaniasis is T cell dependent, expressed by tissue granuloma formation, and probably mediated by macrophages activated by cytokines, including gamma interferon (IFN-gamma). C57BL/6 ep/ep (pale ear) mice, which reportedly exhibit impaired IFN-gamma production, were challenged with Leishmania donovani to determine the outcome of infection in a euthymic host with an apparent defect in lymphokine secretion. In BALB/c and normal C57BL/6 mice, L. donovani liver burdens peaked at 2 weeks and were largely eliminated by 4 weeks. In contrast, in pale ear mice, infection progressed until after 4 weeks and persisted at high levels at 8 weeks. The failure to resolve hepatic infections was not related to deficiencies in (i) Thy-1+, L3T4+, or Lyt-2+ T cells; (ii) IFN-gamma secretion; (iii) liver tissue Ia expression; (iv) macrophage antimicrobial capacity; or (v) antileishmanial antibody production. However, despite the anticipated influx of mononuclear cells into livers, these cells were not properly focused on the parasitized Kupffer cells, the inflammatory infiltrate receded prematurely, and mature granulomas failed to develop. These results suggest that there is a cellular immune defect at the tissue level and emphasize the critical role of granuloma formation in successful resolution of systemic intracellular infections.