Differences in the immune response between 2 strains of interferon-γ knockout mice (BALB/c-GKO and C57BL/6-GKO) infected with Cryptosporidium parvum were examined because the course of infection among these 2 strains is markedly different. Infection of the BALB/c-GKO with C. parvum (2 × 106 oocysts/mouse) resulted in slight weight loss, oocyst shedding, and recovery from infection by 2 wk postinfection (PI). Infection with 100 oocysts in the C57BL/6-GKO mice resulted in significant weight loss, oocyst shedding, and death by day 10 PI. Splenocytes from infected mice were able to proliferate in a dose-dependent manner to soluble C. parvum-sporozoite antigen (SAg). In vitro stimulation with SAg resulted in an increase in interleukin (IL)-2, IL-4, IL-5, and tumor necrosis factor-α mRNA cytokine expression from splenocytes of infected BALB/c-GKO mice. In contrast, only IL-5 mRNA expression was increased in the splenocytes from C. parvum-infected C57BL/6-GKO mice. Phenotypic analysis indicated no significant differences in the splenic cell populations. Previous studies indicated that susceptibility to C. parvum is dependent on CD4+ T cells and interferon-γ production. The present study indicates that although both of these strains of knockout mice become infected with C. parvum, resolution of infection may be in part dependent on the expression of Th2 cytokines.

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