RESISTANCE OF TRYPANOSOMA-CRUZI TO BLOOD CLEARANCE INDUCED BY ACUTE-PHASE IMMUNE MOUSE SERUM
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To investigate functional changes in Trypanosoma cruzi parasites induced during their interaction with the vertebrate host, we compared the blood clearance profiles of blood forms isolated from infected normal mice (Reg-Tc) or from infected mice immunodepressed after treatment with cyclophosphamide (Cy-Tc). Parasite blood numbers were measured at various time intervals in animals injected intravenously (i.v.) with 1-2 x 10(6) T. cruzi of either isolate. In the absence of added immune sera (spontaneous clearance), Reg-Tc and Cy-Tc were cleared from blood at similar rates. However, when acute immune mouse serum (Ac-IMS) was injected i.v. 2 min after inoculation of parasites, a significant proportion of Cy-Tc only was cleared from the blood an hour later, whereas Reg-Tc were not, their clearance profile being identical to that observed in mice injected with normal mouse serum. Cy-Tc susceptibility to Ac-IMS was not the result of a toxic effect of cyclophosphamide over T. cruzi as parasites recovered from animals immunodepressed by irradiation before infection were cleared similarly by acute serum. Contrary to Ac-IMS, chronic immune mouse serum induced similar rates of disappearance of Reg-Tc and Cy-Tc from blood. Our results suggest the occurrence of T. cruzi selection or modification during the acute phase, which leads to an increased parasite resistance to the clearance properties of acute-phase antibodies.