Multiple helminth infection of the skin causes lymphocyte hypo-responsiveness mediated by Th2 conditioning of dermal myeloid cells

Infection of the mammalian host by schistosome larvae occurs via the skin, although nothing is known about the development of immune responses to multiple exposures of schistosome larvae, and/or their excretory/secretory (E/S) products. Here, we show that multiple (4x) exposures, prior to the onset of egg laying by adult worms, modulate the skin immune response and induce CD4+ cell hypo-responsiveness in the draining lymph node, and even modulate the formation of hepatic egg-induced granulomas. Compared to mice exposed to a single infection (1x), dermal cells from multiply infected mice (4x), were less able to support lymph node cell proliferation. Analysis of dermal cells showed that the most abundant in 4x mice were eosinophils (F4/80+MHC-II−), but they did not impact the ability of antigen presenting cells (APC) to support lymphocyte proliferation to parasite antigen in vitro. However, two other cell populations from the dermal site of infection appear to have a critical role. The first comprises arginase-1+, Ym-1+ alternatively activated macrophage-like cells, and the second are functionally compromised MHC-IIhi cells. Through the administration of exogenous IL-12 to multiply infected mice, we show that these suppressive myeloid cell phenotypes form as a consequence of events in the skin, most notably an enrichment of IL-4 and IL-13, likely resulting from an influx of RELMα-expressing eosinophils. We further illustrate that the development of these suppressive dermal cells is dependent upon IL-4Rα signalling. The development of immune hypo-responsiveness to schistosome larvae and their effect on the subsequent response to the immunopathogenic egg is important in appreciating how immune responses to helminth infections are modulated by repeated exposure to the infective early stages of development.