ConA and PHA are two mitogenic substances that can stimulate the proliferation and activation of T lymphocytes. They can activate different T-cell subpopulations, and activated T lymphocytes participate in the cellular immune response. In a previous study (Moreau et al. 2002), ConA was shown to stimulate CD2+, CD4+ and CD8+ T lymphocytes, and its stimulatory effects were stronger on CD2+ and CD4+ T lymphocytes than on CD8+ T lymphocytes. PHA mainly acts on CD4−/CD8−/CD3+ T lymphocytes in PBMCs (Yang et al. 2018).
In the present study, FgESP had no effect or a slight effect on mitogen-induced buffalo PBMC proliferation, which is consistent with the findings of Zhang (Zhang et al. 2005). Among the various molecules contained in FgESP, FgESP may consist of inhibitory and activator components with immunomodulatory functions. Specific molecules in FgESP have been identified, and relevant research is underway. Further research will uncover the functions of FgESP components in the immunomodulatory activity of FgESP.
F22 decreased mitogen-induced PBMC proliferation stimulated by both ConA and PHA. Because F22 consists of multiple components, it can be inferred that the components of F22 affect different T-cell subpopulations, and identifying the correlation between specific molecules and their target subpopulations will deepen our understanding of specific immunomodulatory processes.
TPx and Cat L, which scored highly upon mass spectrometry analysis of both FgESP and F22, have been extensively explored. A study (Tian et al. 2020) showed that FgTPx significantly inhibited PBMC proliferation. Recombinant Cat L has been used for vaccine trials, and vaccine trials in sheep and cattle showed that purified FhCat L1 and FhCat L2 had a protective range of 33–79% against F. hepatica infection (Dalton et al. 2003). The primary proteins in FgESP are Cat L1D, CaBP2 and CaM2. Studies have shown that Cat L1D serves as a drug target of triclabendazole in the treatment of F. hepatica (Faridi et al. 2014). As for CaBP2 and CaM2, those calmodulin-targeted drugs can impede the growth of Schistosoma mansoni, Plasmodium falciparum and malarial parasites (Russell et al. 2012).
The majority of the protein component of F22 consists of β-TUB, HDM-1 and FND. β-TUB is a potential drug target, and subtle differences in β-TUB between the host and parasite are sufficient to provide selective toxicity for some agents (Ryan et al. 2008). HDM-1 can be used as an immunotherapy molecule to treat type 1 diabetes, as suggested previously (Camaya et al. 2021). Fibronectin type III domain-containing 5 (FNDC5) is a transmembrane glycoprotein that can be hydrolysed and lysed to form irisin, which has many benefits in preventing human diseases (Zhang et al. 2020). FNDC5 supplementation may inhibit LPS-induced polarization of M1 macrophages and the production of inflammatory cytokines (Xiong et al. 2018). Considering the strong immunosuppressive effect of F22, determining the effect of its primary component on F. gigantica may require further exploration.
In the present study, F22 decreased mitogen-induced buffalo PBMC proliferation, indicating its strong immunosuppressive effect against F. gigantica infection. Further studies on F22-mediated immunomodulation may facilitate the screening of potential molecular vaccine candidate for the prevention of fascioliasis.