Anti-Trypanosoma brucei activity in Cape buffalo serum during the cryptic phase of parasitemia is mediated by antibodies
Cape buffalo are reservoir hosts of African trypanosomes. They rapidly suppress population growth of the highly antigenically variable extracellular haemoprotozoa and subsequently maintain a cryptic infection. Here we use in vitro cultures of trypanosomes cloned from Cape buffalo blood during cryptic infection, as well as related and unrelated trypanosomes, to identify anti-trypanosome components present in cryptic-phase infection serum. Trypanosome clone-specific complement-dependent trypanolytic IgM and IgG arose after appearance of target trypanosomes during cryptic infection. Serum collected late in the cryptic phase of infection contained complement-independent growth-inhibitory IgG which varied in activity among target trypanosomes. Removal of protein A/G-binding IgG from the serum restored its capacity to support trypanosome growth in vitro. Recovered growth-inhibitory IgG reacted with the variable surface glycoprotein (VSG) of parasites most affected by it, and reacted with trypanosome common antigens, notably the endosome-restricted tomato lectin-binding glycoproteins (TL-antigens). The inclusion of purified TL-antigens in culture medium did not affect the trypanosome growth-inhibitory activity of immune Cape buffalo serum. In addition, hyperimmune rabbit IgG against TL-antigens showed little or no binding to intact trypanosomes and did not affect trypanosome growth in vitro although it did react strongly with TL-antigens and trypanosome endosomes. We conclude that antibodies, particularly clone-specific (putatively VSG-specific) antibodies are responsible for the anti-trypanosome activity of cryptic phase infection serum consistent with a dominant role in parasite control in Cape buffalo.
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