Deletion of IL-4Ralpha on CD4 T cells renders BALB/c mice resistant to Leishmania major infection

Author Summary Leishmaniasis is a disease induced by a protozoan parasite and transmitted by the sandfly. Several forms of infection are identified, and the different diseases have wide-ranging symptoms from localized cutaneous sores to visceral disease affecting many internal organs. Animal models of human cutaneous leishmaniasis have been established in which disease is induced by infecting mice subcutaneously with Leishmania major. Different strains of inbred mice have been found to be susceptible or resistant to L. major infection. "Healer" C57BL/6 mice control infection with transient lesion development. The protective response to infection in this strain is dominated by type 1 cytokines inducing parasite killing by nitric oxide. Conversely, "nonhealer" BALB/c mice are unable to control infection and develop nonhealing lesions associated with a dominant type 2 immune response driven by cytokines IL-4 and IL-13. However, mice deficient in IL-4/IL-13 signaling are not protected against development of cutaneous leishmaniasis. Here we describe a BALB/c mouse where the ability to polarize to a dominant type 2 response is removed by cell-specific deletion of the receptor for IL-4/IL-13 on CD4 + T cells. These mice are resistant to L. major infection similar to C57BL/6 mice, which highlights the role of T helper 2 cells in driving susceptibility and the protective role of IL-4/IL-13 signaling in non-CD4 + T cells in BALB/c mice.