Two strains of mice genetically selected for extreme phenotypes of immunological tolerance to ovalbumin, susceptible (TS) and resistant (TR), were experimentally infected with Sporothrix schenckii. The objective was to observe whether the genetic modifications produced by the selection might be associated with interstrain differences in adaptive immune and innate responses to infection. Therefore, we evaluated the LD50, CFU, phagocytic index, fungicidal activity, pro-inflammatory cytokines, specific antibody titres, and the delayed-type hypersensitivity reactivity. TR mice were tenfold more susceptible to infection than TS mice, as shown by LD50(5 × 106conidia i.v.). In TS mice, the resistance was a consequence of the tissue fungal load reduction, consistent specific T-cell-mediated immunity, and tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α activity at onset of infection. In TR mice, these responses were not precociously detected. Therefore, the absence of CD4+T-cell response in the first week of infection might explain the non-clearance of pathogen in TR mice. However, TR mice did show an increase in TNF level and delayed-type hypersensitivity response after the first week post-infection; there was also expansion and increase in granulomatous foci and CFU in the spleen. The expansion of granulomatous foci and the increase in TNF-α and tissue fungal load to damaging levels induced severe tissue destruction, general failure of the organs, cachexy and death in TR mice. The results show that genetic selection for extreme phenotypes of immunological tolerance also modified the responses to S. schenckii infection. © 2001 Éditions scientifiques et médicales Elsevier SAS.
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