Flow cytometric analysis of immunoglobulin and complement component C3 on the surface of Trypanosoma lewisi.

The Journal of protozoology

PubMedID: 3525820

Sturtevant JE, Balber AE. Flow cytometric analysis of immunoglobulin and complement component C3 on the surface of Trypanosoma lewisi. J Protozool. 1986;33(2):197-203.
We have reinvestigated whether surface immunoglobulin (sIg) on Trypanosoma lewisi is antibody directed toward parasite antigen by using flow cytometry to analyze parasites stained with fluoresceinated F(ab')2 fragments of antibodies to rat IgG and IgM. We have confirmed that IgG antibody to the parasites is present both in the serum of rats and on the surface of parasites between the fourth and twentieth days of infection, that the amount of sIg per cell increases as the infection progresses, and that considerably more IgG is present on parasites harvested from intact rats than on those from rats that had been immunosuppressed by whole body gamma-irradiation. In addition sIgM was detected on trypanosomes from intact, but not on parasites from irradiated rats. We have also made two observations suggesting that not all sIg is specific antibody made in response to T. lewisi. First, a low but significant amount of sIgG was detected on parasites throughout infection in irradiated rats; no sIgM was detected on these parasite. Second, when parasites harvested from immunosuppressed rats were incubated in normal rat serum, the amount of both sIgG and sIgM detected by flow immunofluorescence increased. Parasites harvested from intact animals bound IgM but not IgG from normal rat serum. These results suggest either that natural antibody to the trypanosomes is present in the serum of uninfected rats or that some rat immunoglobulins bind to structures on the trypanosome surface in ways that do not depend on usual antigen-antibody interactions. Finally, flow immunofluorescence was also used to detect complement component C3 on the surface of both intact and trypsinized bloodstream forms harvested from intact or immunosuppressed rats. The amount of sC3 per cell did not increase until late in the infection and consequently did not correlate with the increase of sIgG. Therefore, T. lewisi avoids destruction by the immune system although immune effector molecules, IgG, IgM, and C3, are on its surface.