Immunological approaches for the control of fasciolosis Conference Paper uri icon


  • The immunological relationship between liver flukes and their mammalian hosts is being unravelled by in vivo and in vitro studies. Vaccine studies in cattle and sheep with purified antigens (fatty acid binding protein, FABP; glutathione S-transferase, GST; cathepsin L, CatL; hemoglobin) have shown that high reductions in worm burdens (31-72%) and egg production (69-98%) can be achieved, raising the realistic possibility that immunological control of Fasciola infection is a commercially achievable goal. Combination vaccines may also be feasible since a cocktail of CatL and hemoglobin elicits a significant 72% protection in cattle. Analysis of immune responses to Fasciola during infection in ruminants suggests that chronic infection correlates with a type 2 helper T cell response, implying that type 1 helper T cell responses are down-regulated in fasciolosis. Recent results studying the resistance of Indonesian Thin Tail (ITT) sheep to F. gigantica have shown that this breed exhibits high innate (or rapidly acquired) resistance to infection and acquires a higher level of resistance after a primary challenge. Initial studies suggest that the resistance of ITT sheep to F. gigantica may be determined by a major gene. Merino sheep also acquire resistance to F. gigantica. In contrast, ITT and Merino sheep do not exhibit resistance to F. hepatica. These results suggest that there are fundamental differences between these two species of Fasciola in the biology of their interaction with the sheep immune system. In vitro studies on immune mechanisms of killing of juvenile fluke have shown that juvenile larvae of F. hepatica are susceptible to antibody-dependent killing by activated rat macrophages in vitro which is mediated by nitric oxide. Future studies on the immune effector mechanisms expressed by resistant sheep which control infection by F. gigantica will lead to new knowledge which may allow the design of more effective vaccines for fasciolosis.

publication date

  • October 1997

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