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1.  Immunologic response and memory T cells in subjects cured of tegumentary leishmaniasis 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2013;13:529.
Background
The main clinical forms of tegumentary leishmaniasis are cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) and mucosal leishmaniasis (ML). L.braziliensis infection is characterized by an exaggerated production of IFN-gamma and TNF-alpha, cytokines involved in parasite destruction, but also in the pathology. Maintenance of an antigen-specific immune response may be important for resistance to re-infection and will contribute for vaccine development. In the present work we investigated the immune response in CL and ML cured individuals.
Methods
Participants in the present study included 20 CL and 20 ML patients, who were evaluated prior to, as well as 2 to 15 years after therapy. IFN-gamma, IL-2 and TNF-alpha production were determined by ELISA in supernatants of mononuclear cells stimulated with soluble L.braziliensis antigen (SLA). The frequency of memory CD4+ T cell populations was determined by FACS.
Results
Here we show that the majority of CL and ML patients did not produce in vitro IFN-gamma in response to SLA after cure. In the cured individuals who responded to SLA, effector memory (CD45RA-CCR7-) CD4+ T cells were the ones producing IFN-gamma. Because a large percent of CL and ML cured patients lost SLA-induced IFN-gamma production in peripheral blood, we performed Leishmania skin test (LST). A positive LST was found in 87.5% and 100% of CL and ML cured individuals, respectively, who did not produce IFN-gamma or IL-2 in vitro.
Conclusion
This study shows that in spite of losing in vitro antigen-specific response to Leishmania, cured CL and ML subjects retain the ability to respond to SLA in vivo. These findings indicate that LST, rather than IFN-gamma production, may be a better assessment of lasting immunity to leishmaniasis in human studies, and thus a better tool for assessing immunization after vaccine. Furthermore, in cured individuals which maintains Leishmania-specific IFN-gamma production, effector memory CD4+ T cells were the main source of this cytokine.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-13-529
PMCID: PMC3870979  PMID: 24206576
Cured leishmaniasis; IFN-gamma; Effector memory CD4+ T cells
2.  Influence of HTLV-1 on the clinical, microbiologic and immunologic presentation of tuberculosis 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2012;12:199.
Background
HTLV-1 is associated with increased susceptibility to Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection and severity of tuberculosis. Although previous studies have shown that HTLV-1 infected individuals have a low frequency of positive tuberculin skin test (TST) and decreasing in lymphoproliferative responses compared to HTLV-1 uninfected persons, these studies were not performed in individuals with history of tuberculosis or evidence of M. tuberculosis infection. Therefore the reasons why HTLV-1 infection increases susceptibility to infection and severity of tuberculosis are not understood.The aim of this study was to evaluate how HTLV-1 may influence the clinical, bacteriologic and immunologic presentation of tuberculosis.
Methods
The study prospectively enrolled and followed 13 new cases of tuberculosis associated with HTLV-1 (cases) and 25 patients with tuberculosis without HTLV-1 infection (controls). Clinical findings, bacterial load in the sputum, x-rays, immunological response and death were compared in the two groups.
Results
There were no differences in the demographic, clinical and TST response between the two study groups. IFN-γ and TNF-α production was higher in unstimulated cultures of mononuclear cells of case than in control patients (p < 0.01). While there was no difference in IFN-γ production in PPD stimulated cultures, TNF-α levels were lower in cases than in controls (p = 0.01). There was no difference in the bacterial load among the groups but sputum smear microscopy results became negative faster in cases than in controls. Death only occurred in two co-infected patients.
Conclusion
While the increased susceptibility for tuberculosis infection in HTLV-1 infected subjects may be related to impairment in TNF-α production, the severity of tuberculosis in co-infected patients may be due to the enhancement of the Th1 inflammatory response, rather than in their decreased ability to control bacterial growth.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-12-199
PMCID: PMC3449207  PMID: 22925731
HTLV-1; Tuberculosis; Mycobacterium tuberculosis
3.  Macrophages participate in host protection and the disease pathology associated with Leishmania braziliensis infection 
Background
Leishmania preferentially infects macrophages, which allow the parasite to multiply but can also kill the parasite. Although the T cell response in human leishmaniasis is well-characterized, little is known about the concomitant macrophage behavior. The aim of this study was to characterize the macrophage immune response after Leishmania braziliensis infection in cells derived from cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) or mucosal leishmaniasis (ML) patients, subclinical individuals (SC) and healthy control subjects (HS).
Methods
Peripheral blood mononuclear cell-derived macrophages from the different groups were exposed to L. braziliensis in vitro and were evaluated for susceptibility to Leishmania infection, ability to kill Leishmania and chemokine/cytokine production. Nitric Oxide (NO) and superoxide (O2-) levels in the supernatant of infected macrophage cultures were monitored.
Results
After exposure to L. braziliensis, peripheral blood mononuclear cell-derived macrophages from SC individuals showed a lower infection rate and a smaller number of intracellular amastigotes compared to cells from CL and ML patients. Macrophages from CL and ML patients produced more chemokines and TNF-α than those from the SC group. Production of NO and O2- were detected but did not vary significantly among the different groups.
Conclusions
Our data indicate that macrophages play a pivotal role in controlling L. braziliensis infection and in leishmaniasis pathology by secreting pro-inflammatory chemokines/cytokines that activate and recruit T cells, overwhelming the inflammatory response.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-12-75
PMCID: PMC3373377  PMID: 22458474
L. braziliensis; Macrophages; Chemokines; Subclinical infection
4.  Resistance of Leishmania (Viannia) braziliensis to nitric oxide: correlation with antimony therapy and TNF-α production 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2010;10:209.
Background
Nitric oxide (NO) produced in macrophages plays a pivotal role as a leishmanicidal agent. A previous study has demonstrated that 20% of the L. (V.) braziliensis isolated from initial cutaneous lesions of patients from the endemic area of Corte de Pedra, Bahia, Brazil, were NO resistant. Additionally, 5 to 11% of the patients did not respond to three or more antimony treatments" (refractory patients). The aim of this study is to investigate if there is an association between the resistance of L. (V.) braziliensis to NO and nonresponsiveness to antimony therapy and cytokine production.
Methods
We evaluated the in vitro toxicity of NO against the promastigotes stages of L. (V.) braziliensis isolated from responsive and refractory patients, and the infectivity of the amastigote forms of these isolates against human macrophages. The supernatants from Leishmania infected macrophage were used to measure TNF-α and IL-10 levels.
Results
Using NaNO2 (pH 5.0) as the NO source, L. (V.) braziliensis isolated from refractory patients were more NO resistant (IC50 = 5.8 ± 4.8) than L. (V.) braziliensis isolated from responsive patients (IC50 = 2.0 ± 1.4). Four isolates were selected to infect human macrophages: NO-susceptible and NO-resistant L. (V.) braziliensis isolated from responsive and refractory patients. NO-resistant L. (V.) braziliensis isolated from refractory patients infected more macrophages stimulated with LPS and IFN-γ at 120 hours than NO-susceptible L. (V.) braziliensis isolated from refractory patients. Also, lower levels of TNF-α were detected in supernatants of macrophages infected with NO-resistant L. (V.) braziliensis as compared to macrophages infected with NO-susceptible L. (V.) braziliensis (p < 0.05 at 2, 24 and 120 hours), while no differences were detected in IL-10 levels.
Conclusion
These data suggest that NO resistance could be related to the nonresponsiveness to antimony therapy seen in American Tegumentary Leishmaniasis.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-10-209
PMCID: PMC2915995  PMID: 20633260
5.  The cause of urinary symptoms among Human T Lymphotropic Virus Type I (HLTV-I) infected patients: a cross sectional study 
Background
HTLV-I infected patients often complain of urinary symptomatology. Epidemiological studies have suggested that these individuals have a higher prevalence and incidence of urinary tract infection (UTI) than seronegative controls. However, the diagnosis of UTI in these studies relied only on patient information and did not require confirmation by urine culture. The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of urinary tract infection (UTI) as the cause of urinary symptoms in HTLV-I infected patients.
Methods
In this cross sectional study we interviewed, and cultured urine from, 157 HTLV-I seropositive individuals followed regularly at a specialized clinic. All patients were evaluated by a neurologist and classified according to the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS). Urodynamic studies were performed at the discretion of the treating physician.
Results
Sixty-four patients complained of at least one active urinary symptom but UTI was confirmed by a positive urine culture in only 12 of these patients (19%); the majority of symptomatic patients (81%) had negative urine cultures. To investigate the mechanism behind the urinary complaints in symptomatic individuals with negative urine cultures, we reviewed the results of urodynamic studies performed in 21 of these patients. Most of them (90.5%) had abnormal findings. The predominant abnormalities were detrusor sphincter hyperreflexia and dyssynergia, findings consistent with HTLV-I-induced neurogenic bladder. On a multivariate logistic regression, an abnormal EDSS score was the strongest predictor of urinary symptomatology (OR 9.87, 95% CI 3.465 to 28.116, P < 0.0001).
Conclusion
Urinary symptomatology suggestive of UTI is highly prevalent among HTLV-I seropositive individuals but true UTI is responsible for the minority of cases. We posit that the main cause of urinary symptoms in this population is neurogenic bladder. Our data imply that HLTV-I infected patients with urinary symptomatology should not be empirically treated for UTI but rather undergo urine culture; if a UTI is excluded, further investigation with urodynamic studies should be considered.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-7-15
PMCID: PMC1828158  PMID: 17352816
6.  Resistance of Leishmania (Leishmania) amazonensis and Leishmania (Viannia) braziliensis to nitric oxide correlates with disease severity in Tegumentary Leishmaniasis 
Background
Nitric oxide (NO•) plays a pivotal role as a leishmanicidal agent in mouse macrophages. NO• resistant Escherichia coli and Mycobacterium tuberculosis have been associated with a severe outcome of these diseases.
Methods
In this study we evaluated the in vitro toxicity of nitric oxide for the promastigote stages of Leishmania (Viannia) braziliensis and Leishmania (Leishmania) amazonensis parasites, and the infectivity of the amastigote stage for human macrophages. Parasites were isolated from patients with cutaneous, mucosal or disseminated leishmaniasis, and NO• resistance was correlated with clinical presentation.
Results
Seventeen isolates of L. (L.) amazonensis or L. (V.) braziliensis promastigotes were killed by up to 8 mM of more of NaNO2 (pH 5.0) and therefore were defined as nitric oxide-susceptible. In contrast, eleven isolates that survived exposure to 16 mM NaNO2 were defined as nitric oxide-resistant. Patients infected with nitric oxide-resistant Leishmania had significantly larger lesions than patients infected with nitric oxide-susceptible isolates. Furthermore, nitric oxide-resistant L. (L.) amazonensis and L. (V.) braziliensis multiplied significantly better in human macrophages than nitric oxide-susceptible isolates.
Conclusion
These data suggest that nitric oxide-resistance of Leishmania isolates confers a survival benefit for the parasites inside the macrophage, and possibly exacerbates the clinical course of human leishmaniasis.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-7-7
PMCID: PMC1810296  PMID: 17316450
7.  Differential effects of antigens from L. braziliensis isolates from disseminated and cutaneous leishmaniasis on in vitro cytokine production 
Background
Disseminated leishmaniasis is an emerging infectious disease, mostly due to L. braziliensis, which has clinical and histopathological features distinct from cutaneous leishmaniasis.
Methods
In the current study we evaluated the in vitro production of the cytokines IFN-γ, TNF-α, IL-5 and IL-10 by peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from 15 disseminated leishmaniasis and 24 cutaneous leishmaniasis patients upon stimulation with L. braziliensis antigens genotyped as disseminated leishmaniasis or cutaneous leishmaniasis isolates.
Results
Regardless of the source of L. braziliensis antigens, PBMC from cutaneous leishmaniasis patients produced significantly higher IFN-γ than PBMC from disseminated leishmaniasis patients. Levels of TNF-α by PBMC from cutaneous leishmaniasis patients were significantly higher than disseminated leishmaniasis patients only when stimulated by genotyped cutaneous leishmaniasis antigens. The levels of IL-5 and IL-10 production by PBMC were very low and similar in PBMCs from both disseminated leishmaniasis and cutaneous leishmaniasis patients. The immune response of each patient evaluated by the two L. braziliensis antigens was assessed in a paired analysis in which we showed that L. braziliensis genotyped as disseminated leishmaniasis isolate was more potent than L. braziliensis genotyped as cutaneous leishmaniasis isolate in triggering IFN-γ and TNF-α production in both diseases and IL-5 only in cutaneous leishmaniasis patients.
Conclusion
This study provides evidence that antigens prepared from genotypically distinct strains of L. braziliensis induce different degrees of immune response. It also indicates that both parasite and host play a role in the outcome of L. braziliensis infection.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-6-75
PMCID: PMC1488856  PMID: 16638143
8.  Zinc/copper imbalance reflects immune dysfunction in human leishmaniasis: an ex vivo and in vitro study 
Background
The process of elimination of intracellular pathogens, such as Leishmania, requires a Th1 type immune response, whereas a dominant Th2 response leads to exacerbated disease. Experimental human zinc deficiency decreases Th1 but not Th2 immune response. We investigated if zinc and copper levels differ in different clinical forms of leishmaniasis, and if these trace metals might be involved in the immune response towards the parasite.
Methods
Blood was collected from 31 patients with either localized cutaneous (LCL), mucosal (ML) or visceral (VL) leishmaniasis, as well as from 25 controls from endemic and non-endemic areas. Anti-Leishmania humoral and cellular immune response were evaluated by quantifying specific plasma IgG, lymphoproliferation and cytokine production, respectively. Plasma levels of Cu and Zn were quantified by atomic absorption spectrophotometry.
Results
A significant decrease in plasma Zn was observed in all three patient groups (p < 0.01 for LCL and ML, p < 0.001 for VL), as compared to controls, but only VL (7/10) and ML (1/7) patients displayed overt Zn deficiency. Plasma Cu was increased in LCL and VL (p < 0.001) but not in ML, and was strongly correlated to anti-Leishmania IgG (Spearman r = 0.65, p = 0.0028). Cu/Zn ratios were highest in patients with deficient cellular (VL<LCL>ML) immune response. Ex vivo production of parasite-induced IFN-γ was negatively correlated to plasma Cu levels in LCL (r = -0.57, p = 0.01). In vitro, increased Cu levels inhibited IFN-γ production.
Conclusions
1. Zn deficiency in VL and ML indicate possible therapeutic administration of Zn in these severe forms of leishmaniasis. 2. Plasma Cu positively correlates to humoral immune response across patient groups. 3. Environmentally or genetically determined increases in Cu levels might augment susceptibility to infection with intracellular pathogens, by causing a decrease in IFN-γ production.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-4-50
PMCID: PMC534101  PMID: 15546498
9.  Exacerbated inflammatory cellular immune response characteristics of HAM/TSP is observed in a large proportion of HTLV-I asymptomatic carriers 
Background
A small fraction of Human T cell Leukemia Virus type-1 (HTLV-I) infected subjects develop a severe form of myelopathy. It has been established that patients with HTLV-I associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP) show an exaggerated immune response when compared with the immunological response observed in HTLV-I asymptomatic carriers. In this study the immunological responses in HAM/TSP patients and in HTLV-I asymptomatic carriers were compared using several immunological assays to identify immunological markers associated with progression from infection to disease.
Methods
Immunoproliferation assays, cytokine levels of unstimulated cultures, and flow cytometry analysis were used to evaluate the studied groups. Nonparametric tests (Mann-Whitney U test and Wilcoxon matched-pairs signed ranks) were used to compare the difference between the groups.
Results
Although both groups showed great variability, HAM/TSP patients had higher spontaneous lymphoproliferation as well as higher IFN-γ levels in unstimulated supernatants when compared with asymptomatic carriers. Flow cytometry studies demonstrated a high frequency of inflammatory cytokine (IFN-γ and TNF-α) producing lymphocytes in HAM/TSP as compared to the asymptomatic group. This difference was accounted for mainly by an increase in CD8 cell production of these cytokines. Moreover, the HAM/TSP patients also expressed an increased frequency of CD28-/CD8+ T cells. Since forty percent of the asymptomatic carriers had spontaneous lymphoproliferation and IFN-γ production similar to HAM/TSP patients, IFN-γ levels were measured eight months after the first evaluation in some of these patients to observe if this was a transient or a persistent situation. No significant difference was observed between the means of IFN-γ levels in the first and second evaluation.
Conclusions
The finding that a large proportion of HTLV-I carriers present similar immunological responses to those observed in HAM/TSP, strongly argues for further studies to evaluate these parameters as markers of HAM/TSP progression.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-4-7
PMCID: PMC385233  PMID: 15070424
HTLV-I; HAM/TSP; HTLV-I carriers; Immunological response in HTLV-I infection; Markers of HAM/TSP progression.

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