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Parasite immunology

Crusted scabies is associated with increased IL-17 secretion by skin T cells.


PMID 25040151

Abstract

Scabies is an ectoparasitic infestation by the mite Sarcoptes scabiei. Although commonly self-limiting, a fraction of patients develop severely debilitating crusted scabies. The immune mechanisms underlying the development of crusted scabies are unclear, and undertaking longitudinal infection studies in humans is difficult. We utilized a porcine model to compare cellular immune responses in peripheral blood and skin of pigs with different clinical manifestations of scabies (n = 12), and in uninfected controls (n = 6). Although clinical symptoms were not evident until at least 4 weeks post-infestation, the numbers of peripheral IFNγ-secreting CD4(+) T cells and γδ T cells increased in infected pigs from week 1 post-infestation. γδ T cells remained increased in the blood at week 15 post-infestation. At week 15, skin cell infiltrates from pigs with crusted scabies had significantly higher CD8(+) T cell, γδ T cell and IL-17(+) cell numbers than those with ordinary scabies. Peripheral IL-17 levels were not increased, suggesting that localized skin IL-17-secreting T cells may play a critical role in the pathogenesis of crusted scabies development. Given the potential of anti-IL-17 immunotherapy demonstrated for other inflammatory skin diseases, this study may provide a novel therapeutic avenue for patients with recurrent crusted scabies.