BACKGROUND: Prenatal exposure to infections can modify immune development . These environmental disturbances during early life potentially alter the incidence of inflammatory disorders as well as priming of immune responses . Infection with the helminth Schistosoma mansoni is widely studied for its ability to alter immune responsiveness and is associated with variations in coinfection, allergy, and vaccine efficacy in endemic populations .
OBJECTIVE: Exposure to maternal schistosomiasis during early life, even without transmission of infection, can result in priming effects on offspring immune responses to bystander antigenic challenges as related to allergic responsiveness and vaccination, with this article seeking to further clarify the effects and underlying immunologic imprinting .
METHODS: Here, we have combined a model of chronic maternal schistosomiasis infection with a thorough analysis of subsequent offspring immune responses to allergy and vaccination models, including viral challenge and steady-state changes to immune cell compartments .
RESULTS: We have demonstrated that maternal schistosomiasis alters CD4+ responses during allergic sensitization and challenge in a skewed IL-4/B-cell-dominant response to antigenic challenge associated with limited inflammatory response . Beyond that, we have uncovered previously unidentified alterations to CD8+ T-cell responses during immunization that are dependent on vaccine formulation and have functional impact on the efficacy of vaccination against viral infection in a murine hepatitis B virus model .
CONCLUSION: In addition to steady-state modifications to CD4+ T-cell polarization and B-cell priming, we have traced these modified CD8+ responses to an altered dendritic cell phenotype sustained into adulthood, providing evidence for complex priming effects imparted by infection via fetomaternal cross talk.