Immunomodulation

Many experiments are based upon a functional immune system in the laboratory animal, e.g., in studies of autoimmune type 1 diabetes mellitus in the NOD mouse and the BB rat. Microorganisms may perform immunomodulation also in the absence of clinical disease, and the effect may be suppressing or activating or both at the same time but on different parts of the immune system. Viruses are normally described as the most frequent immune modulators, one of the reasons being the viremic phase in the pathogenesis of many virus infections during which cells of the immune system become infected, e.g., by adeno-, parvo-, or coronaviruses.181 The thymus may become infected by thymic virus.182 Leukemia viruses even integrate themselves into the leucocytes by reverse transcription. Through different mechanisms such infection of the immune cells may suppress the immune system. One of the most well-described viral infections suppressing the immune system is mouse cytomegalovirus infection,183 an effect probably more specifically associated with the emission of cytokines from the macrophages resulting in the dominance of T-suppressor cells.184-187 The immunosuppressive effect of Mycoplasma infections seems to differ from viral immunosuppression in the secretory stimulation of the macrophages, as interferon production during Mycoplasma infection seems to be impaired.188 Mycoplasma spp. have generalized effects on the specific response to some antigens189 as well as influence on the unspecific host defense mechanisms, especially in the respiratory system.190-195 Immunomodulatory bacteria include group A Streptococci, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Eschericia coli, and Salmonella spp., the effect which can be suppressing as well as stimulating and often is mediated through endotoxin production, the active component probably being lipid A.196 Parasites with impact on the immune system are protozoans such as Toxoplasma gondii197-201 or helminths such as Syphacia spp.202

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