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Cellular Immune Response

There is a definite lack of current understanding regarding the cellular immune response elicited by N. meningitidis, and it is an area which deserves a lot more attention. In a study performed by Kornelisse et al., cytokines in the serum and cerebrospinal fluid of infected children were measured; increased levels of interleukin-12 (IL-12) and gamma interferon (IFN-gamma) were observed. In the same study no increase in IL-6, IL-8, or IL-10 was seen (Kornelisse et al., 1997). Another research experiment examined cytokine secretion via peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) in recovering children and found that the cells produced a significantly greater ratio of IL-10 to IFN-gamma; this indicated that these children consequently produced a greater T-helper 2 subset (Th2) response (Pollard et al., 1999). Unfortunately, the celular source of the cytokines in these two studies was unable to be indentified (Robinson et al., 2002).

In an relatively unsuccessful experiment performed by Robinson et al., intracellular cytokine staining for flow cytometry was utilized in an effort to measure cytokine expression in the the circulating memory CD4 cells; in their conclusion they stated rather simply, "the measurement of cellular immune responses to complex antigenic structures such as bacteria remains difficult. When PBMCs are stimulated in vitro with bacterial anitgens, both innnate and adaptive immune mechanisms may be activated" (Robinson et al., 2002).

More research is drastically needed to better understand the role of the cellular immune response to N. meningitidis infection.


Kornelisse, R.F., et al. "Intrathecal production of interleukin-12 and gamma interferon in patients with bacterial meningitis." Infection & Immunity 65 (1997): 877-81.

Pollard, A.J., et al. "Cellular immune responses to Neisseria meningitidis in children." Infection & Immunity 67 (1999): 2452-63.

Robinson, K., et al. "Characterization of humoral and cellular immune responses elicited by meningococcal carriage." Infection & Immunity 70.3 (2002): 1301–09.

Yazdankhak, Siamak P., and Dominique A. Caugant. "Neisseria meningitidis: an overview of the carrier stage." Journal of Medical Microbiology 53 (2004): 821-32.


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