Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950)

Parasite infections in multiple sclerosis modulate immune responses through a retinoic acid-dependent pathway.

PMID 23975865


We recently demonstrated better outcomes in helminth-infected multiple sclerosis (MS) patients, compared with uninfected ones. The present study evaluates the role of TLR2 and retinoic acid (RA) in parasite-driven protection in MS patients. RA serum levels were significantly higher in helminth-infected MS patients than in uninfected MS subjects or healthy controls. Genes involved in RA biosynthesis and metabolism, such as Adh1 and Raldh2, as well as RA receptors and IL-10, were induced in dendritic cells (DCs) via TLR2-dependent ERK signaling. This programmed DCs to induce FOXP3(+) T regulatory cells and suppressed production of proinflammatory cytokines (IL-6, IL-12, IL-23, and TNF-α) via induction of suppressor of cytokine signaling 3 (SOCS3), an effect mediated by soluble egg Ag (SEA) obtained from Schistosoma mansoni, and by RA. SEA-activated DCs also inhibited IL-17 and IFN-γ production through autoreactive T cells. These inhibitory effects were abrogated when SOCS3 gene expression was silenced, indicating that SEA-mediated signaling inhibited production of these cytokines by T cells, through a SOCS3-dependent pathway. Overall, helminth-related immunomodulation observed in MS patients was mediated by TLR2- and RA-dependent pathways, through two different mechanisms, as follows: 1) induction of IL-10 and FOXP3(+) T regulatory cells, and 2) suppression of proinflammatory cytokine production mediated by SOCS3.