We evaluated the cellular immune competence of 101 subjects living in an area of South Kalimantan (Borneo) where Malayan filariasis is endemic. All patients with elephantiasis but none with other clinical stages of filariasis reacted with adult worm antigens. The majority of subjects without clinical or parasitological evidence of filariasis and approximately one-half of those with amicrofilaremic filariasis reacted with microfilarial antigens. In contrast, most patients with patent microfilaremia did not respond to microfilarial antigens. The in vitro reactivity of all patient categories to nonparasite antigens was similar to that of the distant control group. These results indicate that patent microfilaremia is associated with a state of specific cellular immune unresponsiveness and are consistent with the current hypothesis that the various clinical manifestations of filariasis result from different types of immune responses to distinct antigens associated with different developmental stages of filarial worms.
W F Piessens, P B McGreevy, P W Piessens, M McGreevy, I Koiman, J S Saroso, D T Dennis