The initial immune response to Schistosoma mansoni eggs presumably results in IL-4 production, as schistosome eggs are strong Th2-inducing antigens and the differentiation of antigen-specific Th2 cells is largely dependent on the presence of IL-4 during priming of naive Th cells. Consistent with this concept, intraperitoneal injection of mice with schistosome eggs results in an upregulation of IL-4 production by peritoneal exudate cells (PECs) within 12 h. Egg-induced IL-4 is rapidly bound by its receptor, suggesting that this cytokine is utilized by a cell type present at the site of antigen deposition or is complexed to soluble receptor. The peak of early IL-4 production is accompanied by a local eosinophilia and the apparent disappearance of mast cells. Studies utilizing either IL-4, IL-5, or mast cell-deficient mice indicate that the eosinophilia is dependent on mast cells and IL-5 and independent of IL-4. Strikingly, egg-induced IL-4 production is absent in animals lacking the early peritoneal eosinophilia. Immunocytochemical analysis of PEC following egg injection indicates that the eosinophils themselves make IL-4. These data strongly suggest that egg-induced IL-5 plays an essential role in recruiting eosinophils to the site of antigen deposition and that it is these eosinophils that then directly produce early IL-4.

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