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Clinical and Developmental Immunology
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 483935, 5 pages
Clinical Study

Serum Cytokine Profile by ELISA in Patients with Echinococcal Cysts of the Liver: A Stage-Specific Approach to Assess Their Biological Activity

1Department of Infectious Diseases, IRCCS San Matteo Hospital Foundation, University of Pavia, and WHO Collaborating Centre for Clinical Management of Cystic Echinococcosis, Pavia 27100, Italy
2Laboratory of Parasitology, Department of Infectious Diseases, IRCCS San Matteo Hospital Foundation, University of Pavia, Pavia 27100, Italy
3Clinical Epidemiology and Biometric Unit, IRCCS San Matteo Hospital Foundation, Pavia 27100, Italy

Received 10 August 2011; Revised 18 October 2011; Accepted 19 October 2011

Academic Editor: Georgios Pappas

Copyright © 2012 Luca Piccoli et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


To investigate the usefulness of serum cytokine dosage in the clinical management of cystic echinococcosis (CE), we analyzed serum levels of Th1 and Th2 cytokines in patients with hepatic CE in different cyst stages, CE1-2 (active), CE3a-3b (transitional), and CE4-5 (inactive). Ex vivo assessment of Th1 (IFN-γ) and Th2 (IL-4, IL-13, and IL-10) cytokines in sera was carried out using ELISA. IL-10 was undetectable in all serum samples of patients and controls, while a few sera contained measurable amounts of IFN-γ, IL-4, and IL-13. No statistically significant difference was found between the percentages of positive samples for each cytokine and the different groups analyzed (patients/controls, stage, number, location, and size of the cyst, serology, and sex of patients), with the exception of the association of IL-4 and IL-13 with the cyst stage. Overall, this investigation showed many limits of serum cytokine dosage as a marker of biological activity of echinococcal cysts. Because of low sensitivity and lack of specificity of this test, we believe that other ways to evaluate ex vivo biological activity of the cysts should be explored.