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Mediators of Inflammation
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 243786, 12 pages
Review Article

CD8+ T Cell-Mediated Immunity during Trypanosoma cruzi Infection: A Path for Vaccine Development?

1Centro de Terapia Celular e Molecular (CTCMol), UNIFESP-Escola Paulista de Medicina, Rua Mirassol 207, São Paulo 04044-010, SP, Brazil
2Departmento de Microbiologia, Imunologia e Parasitologia, Universidade Federal de São Paulo-Escola Paulista de Medicina, Rua Mirassol 207, São Paulo 04044-010, SP, Brazil
3Departamento de Biociências, Instituto de Saúde e Sociedade, UNIFESP, Campus Baixada Santista, Santos 11015-020, SP, Brazil

Received 23 April 2014; Accepted 15 June 2014; Published 1 July 2014

Academic Editor: Edecio Cunha-Neto

Copyright © 2014 Fernando dos Santos Virgilio 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.


MHC-restricted T cells are important during infection with the intracellular protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, the causative agent of Chagas disease. Experimental studies performed in the past 25 years have elucidated a number of features related to the immune response mediated by these T cells, which are important for establishing the parasite/host equilibrium leading to chronic infection. T cells are specific for highly immunodominant antigens expressed by members of the trans-sialidase family. After infection, their activation is delayed, and the cells display a high proliferative activity associated with high apoptotic rates. Although they participate in parasite control and elimination, they are unable to clear the infection due to their low fitness, allowing the parasite to establish the chronic phase when these cells then play an active role in the induction of heart immunopathology. Vaccination with a number of subunit recombinant vaccines aimed at eliciting specific T cells can reverse this path, thereby generating a productive immune response that will lead to the control of infection, reduction of symptoms, and reduction of disease transmission. Due to these attributes, activation of T lymphocytes may constitute a path for the development of a veterinarian or human vaccine.