The immunoglobulin E (IgE) response is generally considered an essential component of the host defense against parasitic helminths such as Schistosoma mansoni. In contrast, work on antischistosome vaccines suggests that interferon gamma (IFN-gamma) is the critical immune mediator for vaccine-induced immunity to the parasite. In this study, the total IgE response to a primary S. mansoni infection was suppressed by anti-IgE treatment in both normal mice and in mice with defective IFN genes (gene knockout [GKO]). Reduction of the IgE response resulted in decreased worm burden and a decrease in the number of eggs produced per worm in both normal and GKO mice. Whereas anti-IgE treatment also resulted in reduced hepatosplenomegaly, granulomas around existing schistosome eggs showed normal cellularity. Serum interleukin 4 levels fell in response to the reduction in serum IgE as well. The data suggest that IgE plays a detrimental, rather than beneficial, role for the host in schistosomiasis. Furthermore, the absence of IFN-gamma was found to be of little consequence to the host-response to adults or eggs in a primary schistosome infection.

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