Trypanosoma cruzi infection induces a massive extrafollicular and follicular splenic B-cell response which is a high source of non-parasite-specific antibodies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • DA Bermejo
  • MC Amezcua-Vesely
  • Mahmood Khan
  • EV Acosta-Rodríguez
  • CL Montes
  • MC Merino
  • E Mohr
  • Dale Taylor
  • Adriana Gruppi


Acute infection with Trypanosoma cruzi, the aetiological agent of Chagas' disease, results in parasitaemia and polyclonal lymphocyte activation. It has been reported that polyclonal B-cell activation is associated with hypergammaglobulinaemia and delayed parasite-specific antibody response. In the present study we analysed the development of a B-cell response within the different microenvironments of the spleen during acute T. cruzi infection. We observed massive germinal centre (GC) and extrafollicular (EF) responses at the peak of infection. However, the EF foci were evident since day 3 post-infection (p.i.), and, early in the infection, they mainly provided IgM. The EF foci response reached its peak at 11 days p.i. and extended from the red pulp into the periarteriolar lymphatic sheath. The GCs were detected from day 8 p.i. At the peak of parasitaemia, CD138(+)  B220(+) plasma cells in EF foci, red pulp and T-cell zone expressed IgM and all the IgG isotypes. Instead of the substantial B-cell response, most of the antibodies produced by splenic cells did not target the parasite, and parasite-specific IgG isotypes could be detected in sera only after 18 days p.i. We also observed that the bone marrow of infected mice presented a strong reduction in CD138(+)  B220(+) cells compared with that of normal mice. Hence, in acute infection with T. cruzi, the spleen appears to be the most important lymphoid organ that lodges plasma cells and the main producer of antibodies. The development of a B-cell response during T. cruzi infection shows features that are particular to T. cruzi and other protozoan infection but different to other infections or immunization with model antigens.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123–133
Issue number1
Early online date7 Dec 2010
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011


  • antibody responses, B cells, Chagas’ disease, germinal centre, parasite

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