Schistosome infection aggravates HCV-related liver disease and induces changes in the regulatory T-cell phenotype

E. Loffredo-Verde, I. Abdel-Aziz, J. Albrecht, N. El-Guindy, M. Yacob, A. Solieman, U. Protzer, D. H. Busch, L. E. Layland, C. U. Prazeres da Costa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Schistosome infections are renowned for their ability to induce regulatory networks such as regulatory T cells (Treg) that control immune responses against homologous and heterologous antigens such as allergies. However, in the case of co-infections with hepatitis C virus (HCV), schistosomes accentuate disease progression and we hypothesized that expanding schistosome-induced Treg populations change their phenotype and could thereby suppress beneficial anti-HCV responses. We therefore analysed effector T cells and n/iTreg subsets applying the markers Granzyme B (GrzB) and Helios in Egyptian cohorts of HCV mono-infected (HCV), schistosome-co-infected (Sm/HCV) and infection-free individuals. Interestingly, viral load and liver transaminases were significantly elevated in Sm/HCV individuals when compared to HCV patients. Moreover, overall Treg frequencies and HeliosposTreg were not elevated in Sm/HCV individuals, but frequencies of GrzB+Treg were significantly increased. Simultaneously, GrzB+ CD8+ T cells were not suppressed in co-infected individuals. This study demonstrates that in Sm/HCV co-infected cohorts, liver disease is aggravated with enhanced virus replication and Treg do not expand but rather change their phenotype with GrzB possibly being a more reliable marker than Helios for iTreg. Therefore, curing concurrent schistosome disease could be an important prerequisite for successful HCV treatment as co-infected individuals respond poorly to interferon therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-104
Number of pages8
JournalParasite Immunology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2015


  • Granzyme B
  • Helios
  • Hepatitis C virus
  • Liver disease
  • Regulatory T cells
  • Schistosoma mansoni


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