International immunopharmacology

Upregulation of PD-1 on CD4⁺CD25⁺ T cells is associated with immunosuppression in liver of mice infected with Echinococcus multilocularis.

PMID 25907244


Alveolar echinococcosis is a zoonotic disease caused by Echinococcus multilocularis (E. multilocularis) infection. The relationship between PD-1/PD-L1 pathway and Tregs at different stages of E. multilocularis infection has rarely been reported. This study aims to investigate the role of PD-1/PD-L1 in immunosuppression of Tregs in E. multilocularis infection. Hematoxylin-eosin staining, flow cytometry, immunohistochemistry, quantitative RT-PCR analysis, cytometric bead array and MTT assay were used to analyze liver pathological changes, percentages of PD-1(+) Tregs and PD-L1(+) dendritic cells (DCs), expression levels of PD-1, PD-L1 and Foxp3, levels of interleukin-10 (IL-10) and transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β) and proliferation of lymphocytes. During middle-late stage (day 30 to day 330) the percentages of PD-1(+) Tregs and PD-L1(+) DCs together with levels of Foxp3, IL-10 and TGF-β increased significantly and maintained at high level. The expression of PD-1 and PD-L1 was increased with the enlarging erosion of E. multilocularis, and was mainly distributed in hepatic sinus, fibrous wall of alveolar hydatid and germinal layer around foci of infection. PD-1/PD-L1 promoted the secretion of IL-10 and TGF-β. Our results indicate that engagement of the PD-1 and PD-L1 correlates with inhibition of T-cell effector function, cytokine secretion and proliferation. High expression of PD-1/PD-L1 may play an important role in stimulating CD4(+)CD25(+) T cells, and maintaining peripheral tolerance and immune evasion during chronic infection of E. multilocularis.