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1.  Rapid Healing of Cutaneous Leishmaniasis by High-Frequency Electrocauterization and Hydrogel Wound Care with or without DAC N-055: A Randomized Controlled Phase IIa Trial in Kabul 
Background
Anthroponotic cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) due to Leishmania (L.) tropica infection is a chronic, frequently disfiguring skin disease with limited therapeutic options. In endemic countries healing of ulcerative lesions is often delayed by bacterial and/or fungal infections. Here, we studied a novel therapeutic concept to prevent superinfections, accelerate wound closure, and improve the cosmetic outcome of ACL.
Methodology/Principal Findings
From 2004 to 2008 we performed a two-armed, randomized, double-blinded, phase IIa trial in Kabul, Afghanistan, with patients suffering from L. tropica CL. The skin lesions were treated with bipolar high-frequency electrocauterization (EC) followed by daily moist-wound-treatment (MWT) with polyacrylate hydrogel with (group I) or without (group II) pharmaceutical sodium chlorite (DAC N-055). Patients below age 5, with facial lesions, pregnancy, or serious comorbidities were excluded. The primary, photodocumented outcome was the time needed for complete lesion epithelialization. Biopsies for parasitological and (immuno)histopathological analyses were taken prior to EC (1st), after wound closure (2nd) and after 6 months (3rd). The mean duration for complete wound closure was short and indifferent in group I (59 patients, 43.1 d) and II (54 patients, 42 d; p = 0.83). In patients with Leishmania-positive 2nd biopsies DAC N-055 caused a more rapid wound epithelialization (37.2 d vs. 58.3 d; p = 0.08). Superinfections occurred in both groups at the same rate (8.8%). Except for one patient, reulcerations (10.2% in group I, 18.5% in group II; p = 0.158) were confined to cases with persistent high parasite loads after healing. In vitro, DAC N-055 showed a leishmanicidal effect on pro- and amastigotes.
Conclusions/Significance
Compared to previous results with intralesional antimony injections, the EC plus MWT protocol led to more rapid wound closure. The tentatively lower rate of relapses and the acceleration of wound closure in a subgroup of patients with parasite persistence warrant future studies on the activity of DAC N-055.
Trial Registration
ClinicalTrails.gov NCT00947362
Author Summary
In many countries of the Middle East such as Afghanistan, cutaneous leishmaniasis is a highly prevalent, chronic and stigmatizing skin disease. Poor hygiene conditions frequently aggravate the lesions due to bacterial and fungal superinfections. Classical treatments with injections of pentavalent antimony are hampered by costs, side effects, resistance development, supply and manufactural quality problems. In the present study on Afghan patients with Leishmania tropica-induced skin lesions we evaluated the clinical effect of an initial removal of lesion tissue by electrocoagulation using a bipolar high-frequency electrosurgery instrument, followed by daily moist wound treatment with or without a preparation of pharmaceutical sodium chlorite (DAC N-055). DAC N-055 is a compound with anti-infective, immunomodulatory and tissue repair-promoting effects. Our analysis revealed that the carefully performed moist wound treatment led to a rapid healing of the wounds within an average period of 6 weeks, even in the absence of the sodium chlorite preparation. This is considerably faster than the time spans previously reported for local or systemic antimony treatment. We believe that the current standard for local care of chronic wounds should also be applied to Leishmania skin lesions. If combined with an initial single high-frequency electrocoagulation, it is a highly effective, inexpensive and well-tolerated treatment option for cutaneous leishmaniasis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0002694
PMCID: PMC3923720  PMID: 24551257
2.  Severe Soft Tissue Infection Caused by a Non-Beta-Hemolytic Streptococcus pyogenes Strain Harboring a Premature Stop Mutation in the sagC Gene 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2013;51(6):1962-1965.
We recovered a non-beta-hemolytic Streptococcus pyogenes strain from a severe soft tissue infection. In this isolate, we detected a premature stop codon within the sagC gene of the streptolysin S (SLS) biosynthetic operon. Reintroduction of full-length sagC gene on a plasmid vector restored the beta-hemolytic phenotype to our clinical isolate, indicating that the point mutation in sagC accounted for loss of hemolytic activity. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report to demonstrate that a severe soft tissue infection can be caused by a non-beta-hemolytic S. pyogenes strain lacking a functional SagC.
doi:10.1128/JCM.00175-13
PMCID: PMC3716101  PMID: 23515542
3.  First Assessment for the Presence of Phlebotomine Vectors in Bavaria, Southern Germany, by Combined Distribution Modeling and Field Surveys 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e81088.
Leishmaniasis is caused by protozoa of the genus Leishmania and transmitted by sand flies from mammalian reservoirs to humans. In recent years, a northward spread of L. infantum from highly endemic Mediterranean countries into previously non-endemic Central European areas has been suspected based on presumed sporadic cases of autochthonous leishmaniasis. Here, we investigated whether sand flies are prevalent in Bavaria in Southern Germany, a federal state in which autochthonous cases have previously been reported. Considering the present and future climatic conditions, we determined whether Bavaria is suitable for five sand fly species with assumed spreading tendencies towards Central Europe: Phlebotomus ariasi, P. neglectus, P. perfiliewi and P. perniciosus that are known vectors for Leishmania in Europe, and P. mascittii, a suspected but not proven vector. Within Bavaria we defined sampling regions based on their climatic suitability and their spatial distance to the sites of the autochthonous cases and/or to areas of reported sand fly detection in states adjacent to Bavaria. At 155 locations in 7 sampling regions, CDC light traps were placed during 38 nights in the summers of 2009 and 2010, resulting in 202 trap-nights. All traps were negative for sand flies. The results suggest that Bavaria is not yet endemic for sand flies, but do not exclude the possibility of sporadic cases of autochthonous human or zoonotic Leishmania infections. This study, which combined methodological approaches from different disciplines, serves as reference for future surveys and risk analyses of sand flies and leishmaniasis in so far non-endemic areas of Europe.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0081088
PMCID: PMC3832422  PMID: 24260539
4.  Nitric oxide–mediated regulation of ferroportin-1 controls macrophage iron homeostasis and immune function in Salmonella infection 
NOS2-derived nitric oxide drives ferroportin-1–mediated iron export in Salmonella-infected macrophages, thus limiting bacterial growth.
Nitric oxide (NO) generated by inducible NO synthase 2 (NOS2) affects cellular iron homeostasis, but the underlying molecular mechanisms and implications for NOS2-dependent pathogen control are incompletely understood. In this study, we found that NO up-regulated the expression of ferroportin-1 (Fpn1), the major cellular iron exporter, in mouse and human cells. Nos2−/− macrophages displayed increased iron content due to reduced Fpn1 expression and allowed for an enhanced iron acquisition by the intracellular bacterium Salmonella typhimurium. Nos2 gene disruption or inhibition of NOS2 activity led to an accumulation of iron in the spleen and splenic macrophages. Lack of NO formation resulted in impaired nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor-2 (Nrf2) expression, resulting in reduced Fpn1 transcription and diminished cellular iron egress. After infection of Nos2−/− macrophages or mice with S. typhimurium, the increased iron accumulation was paralleled by a reduced cytokine (TNF, IL-12, and IFN-γ) expression and impaired pathogen control, all of which were restored upon administration of the iron chelator deferasirox or hyperexpression of Fpn1 or Nrf2. Thus, the accumulation of iron in Nos2−/− macrophages counteracts a proinflammatory host immune response, and the protective effect of NO appears to partially result from its ability to prevent iron overload in macrophages
doi:10.1084/jem.20121946
PMCID: PMC3646493  PMID: 23630227
5.  Hypoxia-Mediated Impairment of the Mitochondrial Respiratory Chain Inhibits the Bactericidal Activity of Macrophages 
Infection and Immunity  2012;80(4):1455-1466.
In infected tissues oxygen tensions are low. As innate immune cells have to operate under these conditions, we analyzed the ability of macrophages (Mϕ) to kill Escherichia coli or Staphylococcus aureus in a hypoxic microenvironment. Oxygen restriction did not promote intracellular bacterial growth but did impair the bactericidal activity of the host cells against both pathogens. This correlated with a decreased production of reactive oxygen intermediates (ROI) and reactive nitrogen intermediates. Experiments with phagocyte NADPH oxidase (PHOX) and inducible NO synthase (NOS2) double-deficient Mϕ revealed that in E. coli- or S. aureus-infected cells the reduced antibacterial activity during hypoxia was either entirely or partially independent of the diminished PHOX and NOS2 activity. Hypoxia impaired the mitochondrial activity of infected Mϕ. Inhibition of the mitochondrial respiratory chain activity during normoxia (using rotenone or antimycin A) completely or partially mimicked the defective antibacterial activity observed in hypoxic E. coli- or S. aureus-infected wild-type Mϕ, respectively. Accordingly, inhibition of the respiratory chain of S. aureus-infected, normoxic PHOX−/− NOS2−/− Mϕ further raised the bacterial burden of the cells, which reached the level measured in hypoxic PHOX−/− NOS2−/− Mϕ cultures. Our data demonstrate that the reduced killing of S. aureus or E. coli during hypoxia is not simply due to a lack of PHOX and NOS2 activity but partially or completely results from an impaired mitochondrial antibacterial effector function. Since pharmacological inhibition of the respiratory chain raised the generation of ROI but nevertheless phenocopied the effect of hypoxia, ROI can be excluded as the mechanism underlying the antimicrobial activity of mitochondria.
doi:10.1128/IAI.05972-11
PMCID: PMC3318416  PMID: 22252868
6.  High Frequency of Tropheryma whipplei in Culture-Negative Endocarditis 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2012;50(2):216-222.
“Classical” Whipple's disease (cWD) is caused by Tropheryma whipplei and is characterized by arthropathy, weight loss, and diarrhea. T. whipplei infectious endocarditis (TWIE) is rarely reported, either in the context of cWD or as isolated TWIE without signs of systemic infection. The frequency of TWIE is unknown, and systematic studies are lacking. Here, we performed an observational cohort study on the incidence of T. whipplei infection in explanted heart valves in two German university centers. Cardiac valves from 1,135 patients were analyzed for bacterial infection using conventional culture techniques, PCR amplification of the bacterial 16S rRNA gene, and subsequent sequencing. T. whipplei-positive heart valves were confirmed by specific PCR, fluorescence in situ hybridization, immunohistochemistry, histological examination, and culture for T. whipplei. Bacterial endocarditis was diagnosed in 255 patients, with streptococci, staphylococci, and enterococci being the main pathogens. T. whipplei was the fourth most frequent pathogen, found in 16 (6.3%) cases, and clearly outnumbered Bartonella quintana, Coxiella burnetii, and members of the HACEK group (Haemophilus species, Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans, Cardiobacterium hominis, Eikenella corrodens, and Kingella kingae). In this cohort, T. whipplei was the most commonly found pathogen associated with culture-negative infective endocarditis.
doi:10.1128/JCM.05531-11
PMCID: PMC3264169  PMID: 22135251
7.  Natural killer cells in experimental and human leishmaniasis 
Infections with parasites of the genus Leishmania lead to a rapid, but transient activation of natural killer (NK) cells. In mice activation of NK cells requires a toll-like-receptor 9-dependent stimulation of dendritic cells (DC) which is followed by the production of IL-12. Although NK cells appear to be non-essential for the ultimate control of cutaneous and visceral leishmaniasis (VL) and can exhibit immunosuppressive functions, they form an important source of interferon (IFN)-γ, which elicits antileishmanial activity in macrophages and helps to pave a protective T helper cell response. In contrast, the cytotoxic activity of NK cells is dispensable, because Leishmania-infected myeloid cells are largely resistant to NK-mediated lysis. In human cutaneous and VL, the functional importance of NK cells is suggested by reports that demonstrate (1) a direct activation or inhibition of NK cells by Leishmania promastigotes, (2) the suppression of NK cell numbers or activity during chronic, non-healing infections, and (3) the recovery of NK cell activity following treatment. This review aims to provide an integrated view on the migration, activation, inhibition, function, and therapeutic modulation of NK cells in experimental and human leishmaniasis.
doi:10.3389/fcimb.2012.00069
PMCID: PMC3417408  PMID: 22919660
cutaneous leishmaniasis; visceral leishmaniasis; natural killer cells; toll-like receptors
8.  Leishmania-Infected Macrophages Are Targets of NK Cell-Derived Cytokines but Not of NK Cell Cytotoxicity ▿ ‡ 
Infection and Immunity  2011;79(7):2699-2708.
Natural killer (NK) cells are important components of a protective immune response against intracellular pathogens such as Leishmania parasites, which reside within myeloid cells. Previous in vivo studies in murine cutaneous or visceral leishmaniasis showed that NK cells are activated by conventional dendritic cells in a Toll-like receptor 9-, interleukin-12 (IL-12)-, and IL-18-dependent manner during the early phase of infection and help to restrict the tissue parasite burden by unknown mechanisms. Here, we tested whether NK cells contribute to the control of Leishmania infections by lysing or by activating infected host cells. Coculture experiments revealed that activated NK cells from poly(I:C)-treated mice readily killed tumor target cells, whereas Leishmania infantum- or L. major-infected macrophages or dendritic cells remained viable. Infection with Leishmania did not significantly alter the expression of NK cell-activating molecules (retinoic acid early transcript alpha [Rae-1α], mouse UL16-binding protein-like transcript 1 [MULT-1], CD48) or inhibitory molecules (major histocompatibility complex [MHC] class I, nonclassical MHC class 1b molecule Qa-1) on the surface of myeloid cells, which offers an explanation for their protection from NK cell cytotoxicity. Consistent with these in vitro data, in vivo cytotoxicity assays revealed poor cytolytic activity of NK cells against adoptively transferred infected wild-type macrophages, whereas MHC class I-deficient macrophages were efficiently eliminated. NK cells activated by IL-12 and IL-18 stimulated macrophages to kill intracellular Leishmania in a cell contact-independent but gamma interferon-, tumor necrosis factor-, and inducible nitric oxide synthase-dependent manner. We conclude that Leishmania parasites, unlike viruses, do not render infected myeloid cells susceptible to the cytotoxicity of NK cells. Instead, soluble products of NK cells trigger the leishmanicidal activity of macrophages.
doi:10.1128/IAI.00079-11
PMCID: PMC3191990  PMID: 21518784
9.  The IFN-γ-Inducible GTPase, Irga6, Protects Mice against Toxoplasma gondii but Not against Plasmodium berghei and Some Other Intracellular Pathogens 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e20568.
Clearance of infection with intracellular pathogens in mice involves interferon-regulated GTPases of the IRG protein family. Experiments with mice genetically deficient in members of this family such as Irgm1(LRG-47), Irgm3(IGTP), and Irgd(IRG-47) has revealed a critical role in microbial clearance, especially for Toxoplasma gondii. The in vivo role of another member of this family, Irga6 (IIGP, IIGP1) has been studied in less detail. We investigated the susceptibility of two independently generated mouse strains deficient in Irga6 to in vivo infection with T. gondii, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Leishmania mexicana, L. major, Listeria monocytogenes, Anaplasma phagocytophilum and Plasmodium berghei. Compared with wild-type mice, mice deficient in Irga6 showed increased susceptibility to oral and intraperitoneal infection with T. gondii but not to infection with the other organisms. Surprisingly, infection of Irga6-deficient mice with the related apicomplexan parasite, P. berghei, did not result in increased replication in the liver stage and no Irga6 (or any other IRG protein) was detected at the parasitophorous vacuole membrane in IFN-γ-induced wild-type cells infected with P. berghei in vitro. Susceptibility to infection with T. gondii was associated with increased mortality and reduced time to death, increased numbers of inflammatory foci in the brains and elevated parasite loads in brains of infected Irga6-deficient mice. In vitro, Irga6-deficient macrophages and fibroblasts stimulated with IFN-γ were defective in controlling parasite replication. Taken together, our results implicate Irga6 in the control of infection with T. gondii and further highlight the importance of the IRG system for resistance to this pathogen.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0020568
PMCID: PMC3117789  PMID: 21698150
10.  Detection of “Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis” in Two Patients with Severe Febrile Illnesses: Evidence for a European Sequence Variant▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2010;48(7):2630-2635.
Recently, a new genus of Anaplasmataceae termed “Candidatus Neoehrlichia” was discovered in ticks and rodents. Here, we report on two patients who suffered from febrile bacteremia due to “Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis” associated with thrombotic or hemorrhagic events. 16S rRNA and groEL gene sequencing provided evidence of three groups of sequence variants.
doi:10.1128/JCM.00588-10
PMCID: PMC2897504  PMID: 20519481
11.  Impairment of Gamma Interferon Signaling in Human Neutrophils Infected with Anaplasma phagocytophilum▿  
Infection and Immunity  2009;78(1):358-363.
Anaplasma phagocytophilum, the causative agent of tick-borne human granulocytic anaplasmosis (HGA), is an intracellular bacterium which survives and multiplies inside polymorphonuclear neutrophil granulocytes (PMN). Increased bacterial burden in gamma interferon (IFN-γ)-deficient mice suggested a major role of IFN-γ in the control of A. phagocytophilum. Here we investigated whether infection of human PMN with A. phagocytophilum impairs IFN-γ signaling thus facilitating intracellular survival of the bacterium. The secretion of the IFN-γ-inducible chemokines IP-10/CXCL10 and MIG/CXCL9 was markedly inhibited in infected neutrophils. Molecular analyses revealed that, compared to uninfected PMN, A. phagocytophilum decreased the expression of the IFN-γ receptor α-chain CD119, diminished the IFN-γ-induced phosphorylation of STAT1, and enhanced the expression of SOCS1 and SOCS3 in PMN. Since IFN-γ activates various antibacterial effector mechanisms of PMN, the impaired IFN-γ signaling in infected cells likely contributes to the survival of A. phagocytophilum inside PMN and to HGA disease development.
doi:10.1128/IAI.01005-09
PMCID: PMC2798180  PMID: 19858302
13.  Hydrolytic Reactivity Trends among Potential Prodrugs of the O2-Glycosylated Diazeniumdiolate Family. Targeting Nitric Oxide to Macrophages for Antileishmanial Activity 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2008;51(13):3961-3970.
Glycosylated diazeniumdiolates of structure R2NN(O)=NO-R’ (R’ = a saccharide residue) are potential prodrugs of the nitric oxide (NO)-releasing but acid-sensitive R2NN(O)=NO− ion. Moreover, cleaving the acid-stable glycosides under alkaline conditions provides a convenient protecting group strategy for diazeniumdiolate ions. Here we report comparative hydrolysis rate data for five representative glycosylated diazeniumdiolates at pHs 14, 7.4, and 3.8 - 4.6 as background for further developing both the protecting group application and the ability to target NO pharmacologically to macrophages harboring intracellular pathogens. Confirming the potential in the latter application, adding R2NN(O)=NO-GlcNAc (where R2N = diethylamino or pyrrolidin-l-yl and GlcNAc = N-acetylglucosamin-l-yl) to cultures of infected mouse macrophages that were deficient in inducible NO synthase caused rapid death of the intracellular protozoan parasite Leishmania major with no host cell toxicity.
doi:10.1021/jm8000482
PMCID: PMC2574667  PMID: 18533711
14.  Toll-like receptor–induced arginase 1 in macrophages thwarts effective immunity against intracellular pathogens 
Nature immunology  2008;9(12):1399-1406.
Toll-like receptor (TLR) signaling in macrophages is required for antipathogen responses, including the biosynthesis of nitric oxide from arginine, and is essential for immunity to Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Toxoplasma gondii and other intracellular pathogens. Here we report a ‘loophole’ in the TLR pathway that is advantageous to these pathogens. Intracellular pathogens induced expression of the arginine hydrolytic enzyme arginase 1 (Arg1) in mouse macrophages through the TLR pathway. In contrast to diseases dominated by T helper type 2 (TH2) responses, TLR-mediated Arg1 induction was independent of the TH2-associated STAT6 pathway. Specific elimination of Arg1 in macrophages favored host survival in T. gondii infection and decreased lung bacterial load in tuberculosis infection.
doi:10.1038/ni.1671
PMCID: PMC2584974  PMID: 18978793
15.  Key Role of Splenic Myeloid DCs in the IFN-αβ Response to Adenoviruses In Vivo 
PLoS Pathogens  2008;4(11):e1000208.
The early systemic production of interferon (IFN)-αβ is an essential component of the antiviral host defense mechanisms, but is also thought to contribute to the toxic side effects accompanying gene therapy with adenoviral vectors. Here we investigated the IFN-αβ response to human adenoviruses (Ads) in mice. By comparing the responses of normal, myeloid (m)DC- and plasmacytoid (p)DC-depleted mice and by measuring IFN-αβ mRNA expression in different organs and cells types, we show that in vivo, Ads elicit strong and rapid IFN-αβ production, almost exclusively in splenic mDCs. Using knockout mice, various strains of Ads (wild type, mutant and UV-inactivated) and MAP kinase inhibitors, we demonstrate that the Ad-induced IFN-αβ response does not require Toll-like receptors (TLR), known cytosolic sensors of RNA (RIG-I/MDA-5) and DNA (DAI) recognition and interferon regulatory factor (IRF)-3, but is dependent on viral endosomal escape, signaling via the MAP kinase SAPK/JNK and IRF-7. Furthermore, we show that Ads induce IFN-αβ and IL-6 in vivo by distinct pathways and confirm that IFN-αβ positively regulates the IL-6 response. Finally, by measuring TNF-α responses to LPS in Ad-infected wild type and IFN-αβR−/− mice, we show that IFN-αβ is the key mediator of Ad-induced hypersensitivity to LPS. These findings indicate that, like endosomal TLR signaling in pDCs, TLR-independent virus recognition in splenic mDCs can also produce a robust early IFN-αβ response, which is responsible for the bulk of IFN-αβ production induced by adenovirus in vivo. The signaling requirements are different from known TLR-dependent or cytosolic IFN-αβ induction mechanisms and suggest a novel cytosolic viral induction pathway. The hypersensitivity to components of the microbial flora and invading pathogens may in part explain the toxic side effects of adenoviral gene therapy and contribute to the pathogenesis of adenoviral disease.
Author Summary
Adenoviruses (Ads) are important pathogens and promising vectors for gene therapy applications. In the course of adenoviral infections innate immune responses are activated, which can be beneficial for the antiviral host defense but also detrimental if activated in a deregulated manner. Type I IFNs are crucial for the innate immune control of various viral infections in the mammalian host. So far, the early, systemic release of IFN-αβ during viral infections has been attributed to specialized immune cells, the plasmacytoid dendritic cells. Here, in a mouse infection model, we show that wild type Ads, as well as adenoviral vectors, elicit rapid IFN-αβ production almost exclusively in another cell population, the splenic myeloid dendritic cells. This IFN-αβ storm depends on viral escape from endosomes to the cytosol and the requirements of the response are suggestive of a novel viral induction pathway. Furthermore, we show that virus induced IFN-αβ is the key mediator of Ad-induced hypersensitivity to the cytokine-inducing and toxic activity of lipopolysaccharide, a common constituent of Gram-negative bacteria. Since these bacteria comprise several commensals and pathogens, enhanced susceptibility to lipopolysaccharide may contribute to toxic reactions observed during adenoviral gene therapy and to the clinical symptoms of adenoviral diseases.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1000208
PMCID: PMC2576454  PMID: 19008951
16.  Hydrolytic Reactivity Trends among Potential Prodrugs of the O2-Glycosylated Diazeniumdiolate Family. Targeting Nitric Oxide to Macrophages for Antileishmanial Activity 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2008;51(13):3961-3970.
Glycosylated diazeniumdiolates of structure R2NN(O)=NO−R′ (R′ = a saccharide residue) are potential prodrugs of the nitric oxide (NO)-releasing but acid-sensitive R2NN(O)=NO− ion. Moreover, cleaving the acid-stable glycosides under alkaline conditions provides a convenient protecting group strategy for diazeniumdiolate ions. Here, we report comparative hydrolysis rate data for five representative glycosylated diazeniumdiolates at pH 14, 7.4, and 3.8−4.6 as background for further developing both the protecting group application and the ability to target NO pharmacologically to macrophages harboring intracellular pathogens. Confirming the potential in the latter application, adding R2NN(O)=NO−GlcNAc (where R2N = diethylamino or pyrrolidin-l-yl and GlcNAc = N-acetylglucosamin-l-yl) to cultures of infected mouse macrophages that were deficient in inducible NO synthase caused rapid death of the intracellular protozoan parasite Leishmania major with no host cell toxicity.
doi:10.1021/jm8000482
PMCID: PMC2574667  PMID: 18533711
17.  Cytokines, Signaling Pathways, and Effector Molecules Required for the Control of Leishmania (Viannia) braziliensis in Mice▿  
Infection and Immunity  2007;75(8):3823-3832.
Cutaneous leishmaniasis is caused by protozoan parasites of the genus Leishmania. The mechanisms of pathogen control have been established primarily in the mouse model of Leishmania major infection, but they might not hold true for other Leishmania species associated with cutaneous disease. Here, we analyzed the role of cytokines, signaling components, and effector molecules in the control of New World cutaneous leishmaniasis due to L. braziliensis. Unlike L. major, L. braziliensis caused small, nonulcerative, and self-healing skin swelling in C57BL/6 mice, as well as BALB/c mice. In contrast to the results obtained for L. mexicana, mice deficient for interleukin-12 or its key signaling molecule, signal transducer and activator of transcription 4, rapidly succumbed to severe visceral leishmaniasis. Infection of tumor necrosis factor knockout mice with L. braziliensis led to progressive, nonhealing skin lesions with erosions and hemorrhagic ulcerations, but in contrast to the results with L. major, only 20 to 30% of the mice developed fatal visceral disease. As seen with L. major, mice with a deleted inducible nitric oxide synthase gene (iNOS−/−) were unable to contain L. braziliensis in the skin, whereas the control of the parasite in the spleen remained unimpaired. Unlike what happens in L. major infections, NADPH oxidase had no impact on the course of disease in L. braziliensis-infected mice. These results not only define essential components of a protective immune response to L. braziliensis but also illustrate that the requirements for the control of cutaneous leishmaniasis vary between different parasite species.
doi:10.1128/IAI.01335-06
PMCID: PMC1951993  PMID: 17517868
18.  NK cell activation in visceral leishmaniasis requires TLR9, myeloid DCs, and IL-12, but is independent of plasmacytoid DCs 
Natural killer (NK) cells are sentinel components of the innate response to pathogens, but the cell types, pathogen recognition receptors, and cytokines required for their activation in vivo are poorly defined. Here, we investigated the role of plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs), myeloid DCs (mDCs), Toll-like receptors (TLRs), and of NK cell stimulatory cytokines for the induction of an NK cell response to the protozoan parasite Leishmania infantum. In vitro, pDCs did not endocytose Leishmania promastigotes but nevertheless released interferon (IFN)-α/β and interleukin (IL)-12 in a TLR9-dependent manner. mDCs rapidly internalized Leishmania and, in the presence of TLR9, produced IL-12, but not IFN-α/β. Depletion of pDCs did not impair the activation of NK cells in L. infantum–infected mice. In contrast, L. infantum–induced NK cell cytotoxicity and IFN-γ production were abolished in mDC-depleted mice. The same phenotype was observed in TLR9−/− mice, which lacked IL-12 expression by mDCs, and in IL-12−/− mice, whereas IFN-α/β receptor−/− mice showed only a minor reduction of NK cell IFN-γ expression. This study provides the first direct evidence that mDCs are essential for eliciting NK cell cytotoxicity and IFN-γ release in vivo and demonstrates that TLR9, mDCs, and IL-12 are functionally linked to the activation of NK cells in visceral leishmaniasis.
doi:10.1084/jem.20061293
PMCID: PMC2118560  PMID: 17389237
19.  Innate Immune Response to Anaplasma phagocytophilum Contributes to Hepatic Injury 
Clinical and Vaccine Immunology  2006;13(7):806-809.
In mice, Anaplasma phagocytophilum control is independent of phagocyte oxidase (phox), inducible NO synthase (NOS2), tumor necrosis factor (TNF), and MyD88 Toll-like receptor signaling. We show that despite evasion of these host responses, phox, NOS2, TNF, and MyD88 are activated and contribute to inflammation and hepatic injury more than A. phagocytophilum itself.
doi:10.1128/CVI.00092-06
PMCID: PMC1489578  PMID: 16829620
20.  Postnatal acquisition of endotoxin tolerance in intestinal epithelial cells 
The role of innate immune recognition by intestinal epithelial cells (IECs) in vivo is ill-defined. Here, we used highly enriched primary IECs to analyze Toll-like receptor (TLR) signaling and mechanisms that prevent inappropriate stimulation by the colonizing microflora. Although the lipopolysaccharide (LPS) receptor complex TLR4/MD-2 was present in fetal, neonatal, and adult IECs, LPS-induced nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) activation and chemokine (macrophage inflammatory protein 2 [MIP-2]) secretion was only detected in fetal IECs. Fetal intestinal macrophages, in contrast, were constitutively nonresponsive to LPS. Acquisition of LPS resistance was paralleled by a spontaneous activation of IECs shortly after birth as illustrated by phosphorylation of IκB-α and nuclear translocation of NF-κB p65 in situ as well as transcriptional activation of MIP-2. Importantly, the spontaneous IEC activation occurred in vaginally born mice but not in neonates delivered by Caesarean section or in TLR4-deficient mice, which together with local endotoxin measurements identified LPS as stimulatory agent. The postnatal loss of LPS responsiveness of IECs was associated with a posttranscriptional down-regulation of the interleukin 1 receptor–associated kinase 1, which was essential for epithelial TLR4 signaling in vitro. Thus, unlike intestinal macrophages, IECs acquire TLR tolerance immediately after birth by exposure to exogenous endotoxin to facilitate microbial colonization and the development of a stable intestinal host–microbe homeostasis.
doi:10.1084/jem.20050625
PMCID: PMC2118301  PMID: 16606665
21.  High Diversity of ankA Sequences of Anaplasma phagocytophilum among Ixodes ricinus Ticks in Germany 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2003;41(11):5033-5040.
In Germany humans with acute granulocytic ehrlichiosis have not yet been described. Here, we characterized three different genes of Anaplasma phagocytophilum strains infecting German Ixodes ricinus ticks in order to test whether they differ from strains in other European countries and the United States. A total of 1,022 I. ricinus ticks were investigated for infection with A. phagocytophilum by nested PCR and sequence analysis. Forty-two (4.1%) ticks were infected. For all positive ticks, parts of the 16S rRNA and groESL genes were sequenced. The complete coding sequence of the ankA gene could be determined in 24 samples. The 16S rRNA and groESL gene sequences were as much as 100% identical to known sequences. Fifteen ankA sequences were ≥99.37% identical to sequences derived from humans with granulocytic ehrlichiosis in Europe and from a horse with granulocytic ehrlichiosis in Germany. Thus, German I. ricinus ticks most likely harbor A. phagocytophilum strains that can cause disease in humans. Nine additional sequences were clearly different from known ankA sequences. Because these newly described sequences have never been obtained from diseased humans or animals, their biological significance is currently unknown. Based on this unexpected sequence heterogeneity, we propose to use the ankA gene for further phylogenetic analyses of A. phagocytophilum and to investigate the biology and pathogenicity of strains that differ in the ankA gene.
doi:10.1128/JCM.41.11.5033-5040.2003
PMCID: PMC262509  PMID: 14605135
22.  Tuboovarian Abscess Caused by Atopobium vaginae following Transvaginal Oocyte Recovery 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2003;41(6):2788-2790.
A 39-year-old woman with tubarian sterility fell ill with acute pelvic inflammatory disease 2 months after transvaginal oocyte recovery. Laparotomy revealed a large tuboovarian abscess, from which Atopobium vaginae, an anaerobic gram-positive coccoid bacterium of hitherto unknown clinical significance, was isolated. The microbial etiology and the risk of pelvic infections following transvaginal punctures are discussed.
doi:10.1128/JCM.41.6.2788-2790.2003
PMCID: PMC156532  PMID: 12791933
23.  Expression of Inducible Nitric Oxide Synthase in Skin Lesions of Patients with American Cutaneous Leishmaniasis  
Infection and Immunity  2002;70(8):4638-4642.
Cytokine-inducible (or type 2) nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) is indispensable for the resolution of Leishmania major or Leishmania donovani infections in mice. In contrast, little is known about the expression and function of iNOS in human leishmaniasis. Here, we show by immunohistological analysis of skin biopsies from Mexican patients with local (LCL) or diffuse (DCL) cutaneous leishmaniasis that the expression of iNOS was most prominent in LCL lesions with small numbers of parasites whereas lesions with a high parasite burden (LCL or DCL) contained considerably fewer iNOS-positive cells. This is the first study to suggest an antileishmanial function of iNOS in human Leishmania infections in vivo.
doi:10.1128/IAI.70.8.4638-4642.2002
PMCID: PMC128200  PMID: 12117977
24.  Repetitive Injections of Dendritic Cells Matured with Tumor Necrosis Factor α Induce Antigen-specific Protection of Mice from Autoimmunity 
Mature dendritic cells (DCs) are believed to induce T cell immunity, whereas immature DCs induce T cell tolerance. Here we describe that injections of DCs matured with tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α (TNF/DCs) induce antigen-specific protection from experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) in mice. Maturation by TNF-α induced high levels of major histocompatibility complex class II and costimulatory molecules on DCs, but they remained weak producers of proinflammatory cytokines. One injection of such TNF/DCs pulsed with auto-antigenic peptide ameliorated the disease score of EAE. This could not be observed with immature DCs or DCs matured with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) plus anti-CD40. Three consecutive injections of peptide-pulsed TNF/DCs derived from wild-type led to the induction of peptide-specific predominantly interleukin (IL)-10–producing CD4+ T cells and complete protection from EAE. Blocking of IL-10 in vivo could only partially restore the susceptibility to EAE, suggesting an important but not exclusive role of IL-10 for EAE prevention. Notably, the protection was peptide specific, as TNF/DCs pulsed with unrelated peptide could not prevent EAE. In conclusion, this study describes that stimulation by TNF-α results in incompletely matured DCs (semi-mature DCs) which induce peptide-specific IL-10–producing T cells in vivo and prevent EAE.
doi:10.1084/jem.20011341
PMCID: PMC2196016  PMID: 11781361
dendritic cells; EAE; tolerance; IL-10; TNF
25.  Fibroblasts as Host Cells in Latent Leishmaniosis 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2000;191(12):2121-2130.
Intracellular parasites are known to persist lifelong in mammalian hosts after the clinical cure of the disease, but the mechanisms of persistence are poorly understood. Here, we show by confocal laser microscopy that in the draining lymph nodes of mice that had healed a cutaneous infection with Leishmania major, 40% of the persisting parasites were associated with fibroblasts forming the reticular meshwork of the lymph nodes. In vitro, both promastigotes and amastigotes of L. major infected primary skin or lymph node fibroblasts. Compared with macrophages, cytokine-activated fibroblasts had a reduced ability to express type 2 nitric oxide synthase and to kill intracellular L. major. These data identify fibroblasts as an important host cell for Leishmania during the chronic phase of infection and suggest that they might serve as safe targets for the parasites in clinically latent disease.
PMCID: PMC2193203  PMID: 10859337
Leishmania major; fibroblasts; persistent infection; nitric oxide; macrophages

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