Trypanosoma cruzi, a protozoan parasite, is the etiologic agent of Chagas disease. The disease is characterized by acute and chronic phases, with high and low parasitemia, respectively. A strong immune activation is necessary for the host to enter the chronic phase; however, immune mechanisms participating in the reduction of parasites between the acute and chronic phases of the disease have been very difficult to elucidate. We report here the discovery of anti-egressin, an antibody present in serum from chronically infected BALB/c mice that is able to inhibit parasite egress from infected BALB/c fibroblast cultures in vitro. The antibody is very concentrated in serum from these mice; chronic serum may be diluted 1:20 while still maintaining functional activity. Isotype analysis of anti-egressin has suggested it to be IgG2a. Further analysis revealed that anti-egressin was specific for a component expressed on the surface of infected host cells. The specificity of anti-egressin toward the extracellular portion of infected host cells was demonstrated both by using a quantitative assay measuring released trypomastigotes and through immunocytochemical staining. The novel role of anti-egressin in the inhibition of parasite egress from infected host cells has not been described in the literature to date. We believe that anti-egressin plays an important role in achieving the low parasitemia characteristic of chronic Chagas disease.
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