IL-4/IL-13 independent goblet cell hyperplasia in experimental helminth infections

BACKGROUND: Intestinal mucus production by hyperplasic goblet cells is a striking pathological feature of many parasitic helminth infections and is related to intestinal protection and worm expulsion. Induction of goblet cell hyperplasia is associated with TH2 immune responses, which in helminth infections are controlled primarily by IL-13, and also IL-4. In the study presented here we examine the goblet cell hyperplasic response to three experimental parasitic helminth infections; namely Nippostrongylus brasiliensis, Syphacia obvelata and Schistosoma mansoni. RESULTS: As expected N. brasiliensis infection induced a strong goblet cell hyperplasia dependent on IL-4/IL-13/IL-4Ralpha expression. In contrast, and despite previously published transiently elevated IL-4/IL-13 levels, S. obvelata infections did not increase goblet cell hyperplasia in the colon. Furthermore, induction of goblet cell hyperplasia in response to S. mansoni eggs traversing the intestine was equivalent between BALB/c, IL-4/IL-13-/- and IL-4Ralpha-/- mice. CONCLUSION: Together these data demonstrate that intestinal goblet cell hyperplasia can be independent of TH2 immune responses associated with parasitic helminth infections.