Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 19687195
Infect. Immun. 2009 Nov;77(11):5044-9
A gamma interferon (IFN-gamma)-dependent innate immune response operates against the intestinal parasite Cryptosporidium parvum in T- and B-cell-deficient SCID mice. Although NK cells are a major source of IFN-gamma in innate immunity, their protective role against C. parvum has been unclear. The role of NK cells in innate immunity was investigated using Rag2-/- mice, which lack T and B cells, and Rag2-/- gammac-/- mice, which, in addition, lack NK cells. Adult mice of both knockout lines developed progressive chronic infections; however, on most days the level of oocyst excretion was higher in Rag2-/- gammac-/- mice and these animals developed morbidity and died, whereas within the same period the Rag2-/- mice appeared healthy. Neonatal mice of both mouse lines survived a rapid onset of infection that reached a higher intensity in Rag2-/- gammac-/- mice. Significantly, similar levels of intestinal IFN-gamma mRNA were expressed in Rag2-/- and Rag2-/- gammac-/- mice. Also, infections in each mouse line were exacerbated by treatment with anti-IFN-gamma neutralizing antibodies. These results support a protective role for NK cells and IFN-gamma in innate immunity against C. parvum. In addition, the study implies that an intestinal cell type other than NK cells may be an important source of IFN-gamma during infection and that NK cells may have an IFN-gamma-independent protective role.