Challenge of 1-yr Trypanosoma cruzi chronically infected mice with trypomastigotes results in a consistent reduction of parasite dissemination that correlates with spleen activation and increase in the anti–T. cruzi effector immune mechanisms. That is, parasite challenge results not only in elimination of the inoculum but also in a drastic decrease in basal subpatent parasitemia levels as revealed by transferring blood samples to immunosuppressed mice. Parasite elimination correlated with (1) a brief and intense burst in the ability of spleen cells to produce interferon-γ, (2) an increase in total IgG2a-producing spleen cells, (3) higher parasite-specific IgG2a serum levels, and (4) an accumulation of non–B, non–T class II+ cells in the spleen. Furthermore, challenged, chronically infected mice had increased numbers of B, CD4+, and CD8+ large spleen cells. Besides reinforcing the activation of protective Th1 effector mechanisms, challenge with T. cruzi also induced Th2 effector molecules, such as interleukin (IL)-10 and IL-4, and IL-4–dependent IgG1. Our results are the first evidence that the immune system of T. cruzi chronically infected mice can be optimized in its ability to restrict parasite dissemination, opening the possibility that therapeutic vaccination could be used to reduce the parasite load and pathology of patients with chronic Chagas' disease.

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