The effect of interleukin-1β (IL-1β), tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), and gamma interferon (IFN-γ) on Trypanosoma cruzi multiplication and nitric oxide (NO) production in cardiac myocytes was investigated. Cardiac myocyte cultures were obtained from neonatal Wistar rat hearts, infected with T. cruzi, and treated with IL-1β, TNF-α, IFN-γ, or N-monomethyl-l-arginine (l-NAME) for 72 h. Parasite growth was calculated from the number of infected cells in Giemsa-stained smears. Nitric oxide production was determined with the Griess reagent. Inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) expression by cardiac myocytes was detected by Western blot. The results showed that the percentages of cardiac myocytes containing T. cruzi amastigotes in cytokine-treated cultures were significantly lower than in nontreated cultures. The addition of l-NAME reversed the inhibitory effect on parasite growth of IL-1β and TNF-α but not of IFN-γ. Nitrite levels released by T. cruzi-infected and noninfected cardiac myocyte cultures after 72 h of stimulation with IL-1β were significantly higher than those produced upon treatment with TNF-α, IFN-γ, or medium alone, regardless of the infection status. Nitrite levels in TNF-α-stimulated infected cultures were significantly higher than in untreated infected cultures and TNF-α-treated noninfected cultures. l-NAME inhibited IL-1β- but not TNF-α-induced NO production, indicating the presence of iNOS-dependent and iNOS-independent mechanisms for NO formation in this experimental system. iNOS expression was detected in infected and noninfected cardiac myocytes stimulated with IL-1 β and TNF-α but not with IFN-γ. These results suggest an important role for cardiac myocytes and locally secreted cytokines in the control of parasite multiplication in T. cruzi-induced myocarditis.
The production of nitric oxide (NO) by gamma interferon (IFN-γ)-activated macrophages is a major effector mechanism during experimental Trypanosoma cruzi infection. In addition to IFN-γ, chemoattractant molecules, such as platelet-activating factor (PAF) and CC chemokines, may also activate macrophages to induce NO and mediate the killing of T. cruzi in an NO-dependent manner. Here we investigated the ability of leukotriene B4 (LTB4) to induce the production of NO by macrophages infected with T. cruzi in vitro and whether NO mediated LTB4-induced parasite killing. The activation of T. cruzi-infected but not naive murine peritoneal macrophages with LTB4 induced the time- and concentration-dependent production of NO. In addition, low concentrations of LTB4 acted in synergy with IFN-γ to induce NO production. The NO produced mediated LTB4-induced microbicidal activity in macrophages, as demonstrated by the inhibitory effects of an inducible NO synthase inhibitor. LTB4-induced NO production and parasite killing were LTB4 receptor dependent and were partially blocked by a PAF receptor antagonist. LTB4 also induced significant tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) production, and blockade of TNF-α suppressed LTB4-induced NO release and parasite killing. A blockade of LTB4 or PAF receptors partially inhibited IFN-γ-induced NO and TNF-α production but not parasite killing. Finally, daily treatment of infected mice with CP-105,696 was accompanied by a significantly higher level of blood parasitemia, but not lethality, than that seen in vehicle-treated animals. In conclusion, our results suggest a role for LTB4 during experimental T. cruzi infection. Chemoattractant molecules such as LTB4 not only may play a major role in leukocyte migration into sites of inflammation in vivo but also, in the event of an infection, may play a relevant role in the activation of recruited leukocytes to kill the invading microorganism in an NO-dependent manner.
Studies were undertaken to determine whether interleukin 10, (IL-10) a cytokine shown to inhibit interferon gamma (IFN-gamma) production, was involved in Trypanosoma cruzi infections in mice. Exogenous IFN-gamma protects mice from fatal infection with T. cruzi. Furthermore, resistant B6D2 mice developed fatal T. cruzi infections when treated with neutralizing anti-IFN-gamma monoclonal antibody (mAb). Thus, endogenous as well as exogenous IFN-gamma is important in mediating resistance to this parasite. Because both T. cruzi-susceptible (B6) and -resistant (B6D2) mouse strains produced IFN-gamma during acute infection, we looked for the concomitant production of mediators that could interfere with IFN-gamma-mediated resistance to T. cruzi. We found that IL-10-specific mRNA was produced in the spleens of mice with acute T. cruzi infections. In addition, spleen cell culture supernatants from infected B6 mice, and to a lesser extent B6D2 mice, elaborated an inhibitor(s) of IFN-gamma production. This inhibitor(s) was neutralized by anti-IL-10 mAb. These experiments demonstrated the production of biologically active IL-10 during T. cruzi infection. In further studies in vitro, it was shown that IL-10 blocked the ability of IFN-gamma to inhibit the intracellular replication of T. cruzi in mouse peritoneal macrophages. Thus, in addition to its known ability to inhibit the production of IFN-gamma, IL-10 (cytokine synthesis inhibitory factor), may also inhibit the effects of IFN-gamma. These experiments demonstrate that IL-10 is produced during infection with a protozoan parasite and suggest a regulatory role for this cytokine in the mediation of susceptibility to acute disease.
The possibility of maternal in utero modulation of the innate and/or adaptive immune responses of uninfected newborns from Trypanosoma cruzi-infected mothers was investigated by studying the capacity of their whole blood cells to produce cytokines in response to T. cruzi lysate or lipopolysaccharide-plus-phytohemagglutinin (LPS-PHA) stimulation. Cells of such newborns occasionally released gamma interferon (IFN-γ) and no interleukin-2 (IL-2) and IL-4 upon specific stimulation, while their mothers responded by the production of IFN-γ, IL-2, and IL-4. Infection in mothers was also associated with a hyperactivation of maternal cells and also, strikingly, of cells of their uninfected neonates, since their release of proinflammatory (IL-1β, IL-6, and tumor necrosis factor alpha [TNF-α]) as well as of anti-inflammatory (IL-10 and soluble TNF receptor) cytokines or factors was upregulated in the presence of LPS-PHA and/or parasite lysate. These results show that T. cruzi infection in mothers induces profound perturbations in the cytokine response of their uninfected neonates. Such maternal influence on neonatal innate immunity might contribute to limit the occurrence and severity of congenital infection.
Gamma interferon (IFN-gamma) plays an important role in experimental Trypanosoma cruzi infections, presumably by controlling the early replication of parasites in host macrophages. In this work, we show that NK cells represent an important cell type responsible for the production of most of the IFN-gamma in the early stage of T. cruzi infection and that the in vivo treatment of mice with anti-NK1.1 monoclonal antibody made resistant animals susceptible to the infection. Through in vitro experiments, we demonstrate that normal splenocytes from euthymic or athymic nude mice cultivated for 48 h with live T. cruzi trypomastigotes produced elevated levels of IFN-gamma. In addition, NK-depleted splenocytes show a drastic reduction of IFN-gamma production in response to live T. cruzi trypomastigotes. We also demonstrated that IFN-gamma production is dependent on a factor secreted by adherent cells. Supernatants of spleen cells from athymic nude mice are able to induce IFN-gamma production by normal splenocytes when cultured with trypomastigotes. The addition of anti-interleukin-10 to these cultures resulted in a marked increase in IFN-gamma production. On the other hand, the absence of NK cells led to an increased secretion of interleukin-10 upon in vitro stimulation with T. cruzi. Taken together, these results suggest that NK cells are the major source of IFN-gamma that could be involved in limiting the replication of T. cruzi in host macrophages during the early acute phase of the infection.
We have previously shown that the addition of exogenous granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) to nonactivated mouse peritoneal macrophages (MPM) limits Trypanosoma cruzi infections in vitro (E. Olivares Fontt and B. Vray, Parasite Immunol. 17:135–141, 1995). Lower levels of infection were correlated with a higher level of production of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) in the absence of nitric oxide (NO) release. These data suggested that GM-CSF and/or TNF-α might have a direct parasitocidal effect on T. cruzi trypomastigotes, independently of NO release. To address this question, T. cruzi trypomastigotes were treated with recombinant murine GM-CSF (rmGM-CSF), recombinant murine TNF-α (rmTNF-α), or both cytokines in a cell-free system. Treatment with rmGM-CSF but not rmTNF-α caused morphological changes in the parasites, and most became spherical after 7 h of incubation. Both cytokines exerted a cytolytic activity on the trypomastigotes, yet the trypanolytic activity of rmTNF-α was more effective than that of rmGM-CSF. Viable rmGM-CSF- and rmTNF-α-treated parasites were less able to infect MPM than untreated parasites, and this reduction in infectivity was greatest for rmGM-CSF. Treatments with both cytokines resulted in more lysis and almost complete inhibition of infection. The direct parasitocidal activity of rmTNF-α was inhibited by carbohydrates and monoclonal antibodies specific for the lectin-like domain of TNF-α. Collectively, these results suggest that cytokines such as GM-CSF and TNF-α may directly control the level of T. cruzi trypomastigotes at least in vitro and so could determine the outcome of infection in vivo.
•NO is considered to be a key macrophage-derived cytotoxic effector during Trypanosoma cruzi infection. On the other hand, the microbicidal properties of reactive oxygen species (ROS) are well recognized, but little importance has been attributed to them during in vivo infection with T. cruzi. In order to investigate the role of ROS in T. cruzi infection, mice deficient in NADPH phagocyte oxidase (gp91phox−/− or phox KO) were infected with Y strain of T. cruzi and the course of infection was followed. phox KO mice had similar parasitemia, similar tissue parasitism and similar levels of IFN-γ and TNF in serum and spleen cell culture supernatants, when compared to wild-type controls. However, all phox KO mice succumbed to infection between day 15 and 21 after inoculation with the parasite, while 60% of wild-type mice were alive 50 days after infection. Further investigation demonstrated increased serum levels of nitrite and nitrate (NOx) at day 15 of infection in phox KO animals, associated with a drop in blood pressure. Treatment with a NOS2 inhibitor corrected the blood pressure, implicating NOS2 in this phenomenon. We postulate that superoxide reacts with •NO in vivo, preventing blood pressure drops in wild type mice. Hence, whilst superoxide from phagocytes did not play a critical role in parasite control in the phox KO animals, its production would have an important protective effect against blood pressure decline during infection with T. cruzi.
When pathogens enter their hosts, they are fought by several resistance strategies, including capture by phagocytes and the production of pathogen-toxic molecules. Nitric oxide, a free radical, has been extensively studied as one of these toxic molecules that successfully mediates intracellular parasite killing, including Trypanosoma cruzi, the protozoan parasite that causes Chagas' disease. On the other hand, reactive oxygen species also mediate resistance to several pathogens, mainly bacterial. In this study, we addressed the role of reactive oxygen species in the resistance to T. cruzi using gene-deficient mice, a species which phagocytes lack the ability to produce (phox−/− mice). We found that phagocyte-derived reactive oxygen species are not critical to mediate resistance to parasite in the knock-out animals. However, phox−/− mice presented higher mortality and lower blood pressure due to infection with T. cruzi than non-deficient mice. The blood pressure was restored to normal by an inhibitor of nitric oxide synthesis by phagocytes. We hypothesize that superoxide (one of the oxygen reactive species) controls blood pressure during infection with T. cruzi, by reacting with nitric oxide and preventing its action on blood vessels.
Trypanosoma cruzi replicates in nucleated cells and is susceptible to being killed by gamma interferon-activated macrophages through a mechanism dependent upon NO biosynthesis. In the present study, the role of platelet-activating factor (PAF) in the induction of NO synthesis and in the activation of the trypanocidal activity of macrophages was investigated. In vitro, PAF induced NO secretion by T. cruzi-infected macrophages and the secreted NO inhibited intracellular parasite growth. The addition of a PAF antagonist, WEB 2170, inhibited both NO biosynthesis and trypanocidal activity. The inducible NO synthase/l-arginine pathway mediated trypanocidal activity, since it was inhibited by treatment with l-N-monomethyl arginine (l-NMMA), an l-arginine analog. PAF-mediated NO production in infected macrophages appears to be dependent on tumor necrosis alpha (TNF-α) production, since the addition of a neutralizing anti-TNF-α monoclonal antibody mAb inhibited NO synthesis. To test the role of PAF in mediating resistance or susceptibility to T. cruzi infection, infected mice were treated with WEB 2170, a PAF antagonist. These animals had higher parasitemia and earlier mortality than did vehicle-treated mice. Taken together, our results suggest that PAF belongs to a group of mediators that coordinate the mechanisms of resistance to infections with intracellular parasites.
The effects of transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) on interferon gamma-mediated killing of the intracellular protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi and on the course of T. cruzi infection in mice were investigated. Spleen cells from mice with acute T. cruzi infections were found to produce elevated levels of biologically active TGF-beta in vitro, and the possibility that TGF-beta may mediate certain aspects of T. cruzi infection was then addressed. When mouse peritoneal macrophages were treated with TGF-beta in vitro, the ability of IFN- gamma to activate intracellular inhibition of the parasite was blocked. This occurred whether cells were treated with TGF-beta either before or after IFN-gamma treatment. TGF-beta treatment also blocked the T. cruzi- inhibiting effects of IGN-gamma on human macrophages. Additionally, treatment of human macrophages with TGF-beta alone led to increased parasite replication in these cells. The effects of TGF-beta on T. cruzi infection in vivo were then investigated. Susceptible C57BL/6 mice developed higher parasitemias and died earlier when treated with TGF-beta during the course of infection. Resistant C57BL/6 x DBA/2 F1 mice treated with TGF-beta also had increased parasitemias, and 50% mortality, compared with no mortality in infected, saline-treated controls. A single dose of TGF-beta, given at the time of infection, was sufficient to significantly decrease resistance to infection in F1 mice and to exacerbate infection in susceptible C57BL/6 mice. Furthermore, a single injection of TGF-beta was sufficient to counter the in vivo protective effects of IFN-gamma. We conclude that TGF-beta, produced during acute T. cruzi infection in mice, is a potent inhibitor of the effects of macrophage activating cytokines in vivo and in vitro and may play a role in regulating infection.
An intense inflammatory process is associated with Trypanosoma cruzi infection. We investigated the mediators that trigger leukocyte activation and migration to the heart of infected mice. It is known that nitric oxide (NO) modulates the inflammatory response. During T. cruzi infection increased concentrations of NO are produced by cardiac myocytes (CMs) in response to IFN-γ and TNF. Here, we investigated whether NO, IFN-γ and TNF regulate chemokine production by T. cruzi-infected CMs. In addition, we examined the effects of the NOS2 deficiency on chemokine expression both in cultured CMs and in hearts obtained from infected mice. After infection of cultured WT CMs with T. cruzi, the addition of IFN-γ and TNF increased both mRNA and protein levels of the chemokines CXCL1, CXCL2, CCL2, CCL3, CCL4 and CCL5. Interestingly, T. cruzi-infected NOS2-deficient CMs produced significantly higher levels of CCL2, CCL4, CCL5 and CXL2 in the presence of IFN-γ and TNF. Infection of NOS2-null mice resulted in a significant increase in the expression of both chemokine mRNA and protein levels in the heart of as compared with hearts obtained from infected WT mice. Our data indicate that NOS2 is a potent modulator of chemokine expression which is critical to trigger the generation of the inflammatory infiltrate in the heart during T. cruzi infection.
Chemokines; nitric oxide; Trypanosoma cruzi; myocarditis
Macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) is a proinflammatory cytokine that is involved in the host defense against several pathogens. Here we used MIF−/− mice to determine the role of endogenous MIF in the regulation of the host immune response against Trypanosoma cruzi infection. MIF−/− mice displayed high levels of blood and tissue parasitemia, developed severe heart and skeletal muscle immunopathology, and succumbed to T. cruzi infection faster than MIF+/+ mice. The enhanced susceptibility of MIF−/− mice to T. cruzi was associated with reduced levels of proinflammatory cytokines, such as tumor necrosis factor alpha, interleukin-12 (IL-12), IL-18, gamma interferon (IFN-γ), and IL-1β, in their sera and reduced production of IL-12, IFN-γ, and IL-4 by spleen cells during the early phase of infection. At all time points, antigen-stimulated splenocytes from MIF+/+ and MIF−/− mice produced comparable levels of IL-10. MIF−/− mice also produced significantly less Th1-associated antigen-specific immunoglobulin G2a (IgG2a) throughout the infection, but both groups produced comparable levels of Th2-associated IgG1. Lastly, inflamed hearts from T. cruzi-infected MIF−/− mice expressed increased transcripts for IFN-γ, but fewer for IL-12 p35, IL-12 p40, IL-23, and inducible nitric oxide synthase, compared to MIF+/+ mice. Taken together, our findings show that MIF plays a role in controlling acute T. cruzi infection.
Cell invasion by Trypanosoma cruzi and its intracellular replication are essential for continuation of the parasite life cycle and for production of Chagas' disease. T. cruzi is able to replicate in nucleated cells and can be killed by activated macrophages. Gamma interferon (IFN-gamma) is one of the major stimuli for the activation of macrophages and has been shown to be a key activation factor for the killing of intracellular parasites through a mechanism dependent upon nitric oxide (NO) biosynthesis. We show that although the addition of exogenous tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) does not potentiate the trypanocidal activity of IFN-gamma in vitro, treatment of resistant C57BI/6 mice with an anti-TNF-alpha monoclonal antibody increased parasitemia and mortality. In addition, the anti-TNF-alpha-treated animals had decreased NO production, both in vivo and in vitro, suggesting an important role for TNF-alpha in controlling infection. In order to better understand the role of TNF-alpha in the macrophage-mediating killing of parasites, cultures of T. cruzi-infected macrophages were treated with an anti-TNF-alpha monoclonal antibody. IFN-gamma-activated macrophages failed to kill intracellular parasites following treatment with 100 micrograms of anti-TNF-alpha. In these cultures, the number of parasites released at various time points after infection was significantly increased while NO production was significantly reduced. We conclude that IFN-gamma-activated macrophages produce TNF-alpha after infection by T. cruzi and suggest that this cytokine plays a role in amplifying NO production and parasite killing.
Host resistance to infection by Trypanosoma cruzi is dependent on both natural and acquired immune responses. During the first week of infection in mice, NK cell-derived gamma interferon (IFN-gamma) is involved in controlling intracellular parasite replication, mainly through the induction of NO biosynthesis by activated macrophages. Interleukin-12 (IL-12) has been shown to be a powerful cytokine in inducing IFN-gamma synthesis by NK cells, as well as in mediating resistance to different intracellular protozoa. We have therefore studied the ability of T. cruzi to elicit IL-12 synthesis by macrophages and the role of this cytokine in controlling parasite replication during acute infection in mice. Our results show that macrophages cultured in the presence of live trypomastigote forms (but not epimastigotes) release IL-12 that can induce IFN-gamma production by normal spleen cells. IL-12 was detected in as little as 12 h after the addition of the trypomastigotes, and the level of IL-12 peaked at 48 h after the initial macrophage-parasite incubation. The addition of anti-IL-12 monoclonal antibody to macrophage-trypomastigote supernatants dose-dependently inhibited IFN-gamma production by naive splenocytes. Finally, the in vivo role of IL-12 in resistance to infection by T. cruzi was analyzed. Mice treated with anti-IL-12 monoclonal antibody had significantly increased parasitemia and mortality in comparison with those of control infected mice treated with control antibody. Together, these results suggest that macrophage-derived IL-12 plays a major role in controlling the parasitemia in T. cruzi-infected mice and that the animal's resistance during the acute phase of infection may, at least in part, be a consequence of postinfection levels of IL-12.
We have previously shown that splenocytes from mice acutely infected with Trypanosoma cruzi exhibit high levels of nitric oxide (NO)-mediated apoptosis. In the present study, we used the gamma interferon (IFN-γ)-knockout (IFN-γ−/−) mice to investigate the role of IFN-γ in modulating apoptosis induction and host protection during T. cruzi infection in mice. IFN-γ−/− mice were highly susceptible to infection and exhibited significant reduction of NO production and apoptosis levels in splenocytes but normal lymphoproliferative response compared to the infected wild-type (WT) mice. Furthermore, IFN-γ modulates an enhancement of Fas and Fas-L expression after infection, since the infected IFN-γ−/− mice showed significantly lower levels of Fas and Fas-L expression. The addition of recombinant murine IFN-γ to spleen cells cultures from infected IFN-γ−/− mice increased apoptosis levels, Fas expression, and NO production. In the presence of IFN-γ and absence of NO, although Fas expression was maintained, apoptosis levels were significantly reduced but still higher than those found in splenocytes from uninfected mice, suggesting that Fas–Fas-L interaction could also play a role in apoptosis induction in T. cruzi-infected mice. Moreover, in vivo, the treatment of infected WT mice with the inducible nitric oxide synthase inhibitor aminoguanidine also led to decreased NO and apoptosis levels but not Fas expression, suggesting that IFN-γ modulates apoptosis induction by two independent and distinct mechanisms: induction of NO production and of Fas and Fas-L expression. We suggest that besides being of crucial importance in mediating resistance to experimental T. cruzi infection, IFN-γ could participate in the immune response control through apoptosis modulation.
To determine if exogenous gamma interferon is effective in immunosuppressed mice infected with Trypanosoma cruzi, recombinant murine gamma interferon was administered to cyclosporin-treated mice with either acute or chronic T. cruzi infection. Gamma interferon significantly decreased parasitemia and prevented death in acutely infected mice. Parasitemias and mortality of mice treated with both gamma interferon and cyclosporin were similar to those of immunocompetent controls. In chronically infected mice, cyclosporin treatment produced significantly more organ explant cultures positive for T. cruzi. Fewer positive cultures, particularly for spleen and heart, were obtained from cyclosporin-treated mice when they also received gamma interferon. Ketoconazole treatment of mice resulted in no positive cultures. Cyclosporin treatment did not prevent activation of peritoneal macrophages by parenteral gamma interferon, nor did it have a consistent effect on serum titers of alpha/beta or gamma interferon in response to a second challenge inoculum of T. cruzi. These data indicate that exogenous gamma interferon suppresses acute and chronic T. cruzi infection in cyclosporin-treated mice but that gamma interferon is not as effective as the relatively specific antimicrobial ketoconazole. Gamma interferon activates macrophages despite cyclosporin treatment, and its effects appear to be tissue specific.
The aim of this study was to determine if interleukin-12 (IL-12) has a role in the immune response to Trypanosoma cruzi. Infection of BALB/c mice with the virulent Tulahuen strain of T. cruzi is characterized by a high-level parasitemia, pathology in the heart associated with the presence of amastigotes, and death during the acute phase of the disease. Administration of IL-12 to BALB/c mice infected with T. cruzi resulted in a reduced parasitemia and a significant delay in the time to death compared with those for infected controls. This protective effect was correlated with increased levels of gamma interferon (IFN-gamma) and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) in serum. To determine if these cytokines were involved in the protective effects of IL-12, we treated infected mice with IL-12 alone or in combination with monoclonal antibodies specific for IFN-gamma or TNF-alpha. These antibodies antagonized the protective effect of exogenous IL-12. Treatment of infected mice with a polygonal antibody specific for IL-12 resulted in a significant increase in parasitemia but did not affect the time to death. These latter studies demonstrate a role for endogenous IL-12 in resistance to T. cruzi. Together, our data identify an IL-12-mediated mechanism of resistance to T. cruzi, which is dependent on IFN-gamma and TNF-alpha.
Trypanosoma cruzi is a protozoan parasite that chronically infects many mammalian species and in humans causes Chagas’ disease, a chronic inflammatory disease. The parasite expresses glycophosphoinositol (GPI), which potently stimulates interleukin 12 (IL-12) production. During T. cruzi infection IL-12, and possibly GPI, might stimulate NK T cells to affect the protective and chronic inflammatory responses. Here we report that during T. cruzi infection CD1d-restricted NK T cells are stimulated as NK T-cell-deficient mice have greater parasitemia. Furthermore, during T. cruzi infection the percentages of NK T cells in the liver and spleen become decreased for prolonged periods of time, and in vitro stimulation of NK T cells derived from livers of chronically infected mice, compared to uninfected mice, results in increased gamma interferon and IL-4 secretion. Moreover, in NK T-cell-deficient mice the chronic-phase antibody response to a GPI-modified surface protein is decreased. These results indicate that, during the acute infection, NK T cells limit parasitemia and that, during the chronic phase, NK T cells augment the antibody response. Thus, during T. cruzi infection the quality of an individual’s NK T-cell response can affect the level of parasitemia and parasite tissue burden, the intensity of the chronic inflammatory responses, and possibly the outcome of Chagas’ disease.
Trypanosoma cruzi, the causative agent of Chagas' disease, is known to be susceptible to nitric oxide (NO)-dependent killing by gamma interferon-activated macrophages. Mice deficient for inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) are highly susceptible to T. cruzi, and inhibition of iNOS from the beginning of infection was reported to lead to an increase in trypomastigotes in the blood and to high mortality. In the present study, we investigated whether NO production is essential for the control of T. cruzi in all phases of the infection. BALB/c mice were treated at different time intervals after T. cruzi infection with an iNOS inhibitor, aminoguanidine or l-N6-(1-iminoethyl)-lysine (L-NIL). Treatment initiated with the beginning of the infection resulted in 100% mortality by day 16 postinfection (p.i.). If treatment was started later during the acute phase at the peak of parasitemia (day 20 p.i.), all the mice survived. Parasitemia was cleared and tissue amastigotes became undetectable in these mice even in the presence of the iNOS inhibitor L-NIL. Inhibition of iNOS in the chronic phase of the infection, i.e., from day 60 to day 120 p.i., with L-NIL did not result in a reappearance of parasitemia. These data suggest that while NO is essential for T. cruzi control in the early phase of acute infection, it is dispensable in the late acute and chronic phase, revealing a fundamental difference in control mechanisms compared to those in infections by other members of the order Kinetoplastida, e.g., Leishmania major.
Cruzipain, the major cysteinyl proteinase of Trypanosoma cruzi, is expressed by all developmental forms and strains of the parasite and stimulates potent humoral and cellular immune responses during infection in both humans and mice. This information suggested that cruzipain could be used to develop an effective T. cruzi vaccine. To study whether cruzipain-specific T cells could inhibit T. cruzi intracellular replication, we generated cruzipain-reactive CD4+ Th1 cell lines. These T cells produced large amounts of gamma interferon when cocultured with infected macrophages, resulting in NO production and decreased intracellular parasite replication. To study the protective effects in vivo of cruzipain-specific Th1 responses against systemic T. cruzi challenges, we immunized mice with recombinant cruzipain plus interleukin 12 (IL-12) and a neutralizing anti-IL-4 MAb. These immunized mice developed potent cruzipain-specific memory Th1 cell responses and were significantly protected against normally lethal systemic T. cruzi challenges. Although cruzipain-specific Th1 responses were associated with T. cruzi protective immunity in vitro and in vivo, adoptive transfer of cruzipain-specific Th1 cells alone did not protect BALB/c histocompatible mice, indicating that additional immune mechanisms are important for cruzipain-specific immunity. To study whether cruzipain could induce mucosal immune responses relevant for vaccine development, we prepared recombinant attenuated Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium vaccines expressing cruzipain. BALB/c mice immunized with salmonella expressing cruzipain were significantly protected against T. cruzi mucosal infection. Overall, these data indicate that cruzipain is an important T. cruzi vaccine candidate and that protective T. cruzi vaccines will need to induce more than CD4+ Th1 cells alone.
Besides the established role of interleukin-12 (IL-12) and IL-18 on interferon-γ (IFN-γ) production by natural killer (NK), T, and B cells, the effects of these cytokines on macrophages are largely unknown. Here, we investigated the role of IL-12/IL-18 on nitric oxide (NO) and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) production by CD11b+ adherent peritoneal cells, focusing on the involvement of endogenously produced IFN-γ. C57BL/6 cells released substantial amounts of NO when stimulated with IFN-γ or lipopolysaccharide (LPS), but failed to respond to IL-12 or IL-18 or both. However, IL-12/IL-18 pretreatment was able to program these cells to release 6–8-fold more NO and TNF-α in response to LPS or Trypanosoma cruzi stimulation, with NO levels directly correlating with macrophage resistance to intracellular parasite growth. Analysis of IL-12/IL-18-primed cells from mice deficient in IFN-γ, IFNGR, and IFN regulatory factor-1 (IRF-1) revealed that these molecules were essential for LPS-induced NO release, but TNF-α production was IFN-γ independent. Conversely, the myeloid differentiation factor 88 (MyD88)-dependent pathway was indispensable for IL-12/IL-18-programmed LPS-induced TNF-α production, but not for NO release. Contaminant T and NK cells largely modulated the IL-12/IL-18 programming of LPS-induced NO response through IFN-γ secretion. Nevertheless, a small population of IFN-γ+ cells with a macrophage phenotype was also identified, particularly in the peritoneum of chronically T. cruzi-infected mice, reinforcing the notion that macrophages can be an alternative source of IFN-γ. Taken together, our data contribute to elucidate the molecular basis of the IL-12/IL-18 autocrine pathway of macrophage activation, showing that endogenous IFN-γ plays an important role in programming the NO response, whereas the TNF-α response occurs through an IFN-γ-independent pathway.
Trypanosoma cruzi is the etiologic agent of Chagas' disease. Acute T. cruzi infection results in polyclonal B-cell activation and delayed specific humoral immunity. T. cruzi proline racemase (TcPRAC), a T. cruzi B-cell mitogen, may contribute to this dysfunctional humoral response. Stimulation of murine splenocytes with recombinant protein (rTcPRAC) induced B-cell proliferation, antibody secretion, interleukin-10 (IL-10) production, and upregulation of CD69 and CD86 on B cells. Marginal zone (MZ) B cells are more responsive to T-cell-independent (TI) rTcPRAC stimulation than are follicular mature (FM) B cells in terms of proliferation, antibody secretion, and IL-10 production. During experimental T. cruzi infection, TcPRAC-specific IgG remained undetectable when responses to other T. cruzi antigens developed. Conversely, intradermal genetic immunization via gene gun (GG) delivered TcPRAC as an immunogen, generating high-titer TcPRAC-specific IgG without B-cell dysfunction. TcPRAC GG immunization led to antigen-specific splenic memory B-cell and bone marrow plasma cell formation. TcPRAC-specific IgG bound mitogenic rTcPRAC, decreasing subsequent B-cell activation. GG immunization with rTcPRAC DNA was nonmitogenic and did not affect the generation of specific IgG to another T. cruzi antigen, complement regulatory protein (CRP). These data demonstrate the utility of genetic immunization for the conversion of a protein mitogen to an effective antigen. Furthermore, coimmunization of TcPRAC with another T. cruzi antigen indicates the usefulness of this approach for multivalent vaccine development.
Tumor necrosis factor receptor p55 (TNFRp55) mediates host resistance to several pathogens by allowing microbicidal activities of phagocytes. In the studies reported here, TNFRp55−/− mice infected with the intracellular parasite Trypanosoma cruzi showed clearly higher parasitemia and cumulative mortality than wild-type (WT) controls did. However, gamma interferon (IFN-γ)-activated macrophages from TNFRp55−/− mice produced control levels of nitric oxide and killed the parasite efficiently in vitro. Trypanocidal mechanisms of nonphagocytic cells (myocardial fibroblasts) from both TNFRp55−/− and WT mice were also activated by IFN-γ in a dose-dependent way. However, IFN-γ-activated TNFRp55−/− nonphagocytes showed less effective killing of T. cruzi than WT control nonphagocytes, even when interleukin 1β (IL-1β) was added as a costimulator. In vivo, T. cruzi-infected TNFRp55−/− mice and WT mice released similar levels of NO and showed similar levels of IFN-γ mRNA and inducible nitric oxide synthase mRNA in their tissues. Instead, increased susceptibility to T. cruzi of TNFRp55−/− mice was associated with reduced levels of parasite-specific immunoglobulin G (IgG) (but not IgM) antibodies during infection, which is probably linked to abnormal B-cell differentiation in secondary lymphoid tissues of the mutant mice. Surprisingly, T. cruzi-infected TNFRp55−/− mice showed increased inflammatory and necrotic lesions in several tissues, especially in skeletal muscles, indicating that TNFRp55 plays an important role in controlling the inflammatory process. Accordingly, levels of Mn2+ superoxide dismutase mRNA, a TNF-induced enzyme which protects the cell from the toxic effects of superoxide, were lower in mutant than in WT infected mice.
The roles of gamma interferon (IFN-γ) and interleukin-12 (IL-12) in mediating and/or enhancing the in vivo trypanosomicidal activity of the nitroheterocyclic derivative benznidazole (Bz) were evaluated during early stages of experimental Chagas’ disease. Our results show that treatment of Trypanosoma cruzi-infected mice with anti-cytokine monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) had no apparent effect when the optimal dose of Bz (100 mg/kg of body weight) was used. In contrast, treatment with anti-IL-12 or anti-IFN-γ MAbs enhanced the parasitemia and accelerated the mortality of mice treated with a suboptimal dose of Bz (25 mg/kg). Simultaneous treatment with a suboptimal dose of Bz and recombinant IL-12 (rIL-12) enhanced the efficacy of drug treatment in terms of parasitemia and mouse survival. Interestingly, we found that drug-resistant T. cruzi strains were found to be poor inducers of IL-12 both in vitro and in vivo compared to strains of T. cruzi which are susceptible or partially resistant to Bz treatment. These results suggest that early activation of the cellular compartment of the immune system by IL-12 may favor in vivo Bz activity against T. cruzi. In order to test this hypothesis mice infected with the drug-resistant Colombiana strain of T. cruzi were treated with 100 mg of Bz per kg plus different concentrations of rIL-12. By using the results of PCR and serological and parasitological methods as the criteria of a cure, our results indicate that a higher percentage of mice treated with Bz combined with rIL-12 than mice treated with Bz alone are cured.
In the present study, we describe the ability of Trypanosoma cruzi trypomastigotes to stimulate the synthesis of β-chemokines by macrophages. In vivo infection with T. cruzi led to MIP-1α, RANTES, and JE/MCP1 mRNA expression by cells from peritoneal inflammatory exudate. In addition, in vitro infection with T. cruzi resulted in expression of β-chemokine MIP-1α, MIP-1β, RANTES, and JE mRNA by macrophages. The expression of the β-chemokine MIP-1α, MIP-1β, RANTES, and JE proteins by murine macrophages cultured with trypomastigote forms of T. cruzi was confirmed by immunocytochemistry. Interestingly, macrophage infection with T. cruzi also resulted in NO production, which we found to be mediated mainly by β-chemokines. Hence, treatment with anti-β-chemokine-specific neutralizing antibodies partially inhibited NO release by macrophages incubated with T. cruzi parasites. Further, the addition of the exogenous β-chemokines MIP-1α, MIP-1β, RANTES, and JE/MCP-1 induced an increased T. cruzi uptake, leading to enhanced NO production and control of parasite replication in a dose-dependent manner. l-NMMA, a specific inhibitor of the l-arginine–NO pathway, caused a decrease in NO production and parasite killing when added to cultures of macrophages stimulated with β-chemokines. Among the β-chemokines tested, JE was more potent in inhibiting parasite growth, although it was much less efficient than gamma interferon (IFN-γ). Nevertheless, JE potentiates parasite killing by macrophages incubated with low doses of IFN-γ. Together, these results suggest that in addition to their chemotactic activity, murine β-chemokines may also contribute to enhancing parasite uptake and promoting control of parasite replication in macrophages and may play a role in resistance to T. cruzi infection.
Using interleukin-10 (IL-10)-deficient (IL-10−/−) mice, previous studies revealed a pathological immune response after infection with Trypanosoma cruzi that is associated with CD4+ T cells and overproduction of proinflammatory cytokines. In this study we further investigate the pathology and potential mediators for the mortality in infected animals. T. cruzi-infected IL-10−/− mice showed reduced parasitemia accompanied by increased systemic release of gamma interferon (IFN-γ), IL-12, and reactive nitrogen intermediates and overproduction of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α). Despite this early resistance, IL-10−/− mice died within the third week of infection, whereas all control mice survived acute infection. The clinical manifestation with weight loss, hypothermia, hypoglycemia, hyperkalemia, and increased liver-derived enzymes in the blood together with hepatic necrosis and intravascular coagulation in moribund mice indicated a toxic shock-like syndrome, possibly mediated by the systemic TNF-α overproduction. Indeed, high production of systemic TNF-α significantly correlated with mortality, and moribund mice died with critically high TNF-α concentrations in the blood. Consequent treatment with anti-TNF-α antiserum attenuated pathological changes in T. cruzi-infected IL-10−/− mice and significantly prolonged survival; the mice died during the fourth week postinfection, again with a striking correlation between regaining high systemic TNF-α concentrations and the time of death. Since elevated serum IL-12 and IFN-γ concentrations were not affected by the administration of antiserum, these studies suggest that TNF-α is the direct mediator of this toxic shock syndrome. In conclusion, induction of endogenous IL-10 during experimentally induced Chagas' disease seems to be crucial for counterregulating an overshooting proinflammatory cytokine response resulting in TNF-α-mediated toxic shock.