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Immunogenetics. Sep 2009; 61(9): 619–633.
Published online Aug 25, 2009. doi:  10.1007/s00251-009-0392-9
PMCID: PMC2744819

Distinct genetic control of parasite elimination, dissemination, and disease after Leishmania major infection


Elimination of pathogens is the basis of host resistance to infections; however, relationship between persisting pathogens and disease has not been clarified. Leishmania major infection in mice is an important model of host–pathogen relationship. Infected BALB/c mice exhibit high parasite numbers in lymph nodes and spleens, and a chronic disease with skin lesions, splenomegaly, and hepatomegaly, increased serum IgE levels and cytokine imbalance. Although numerous gene loci affecting these disease symptoms have been reported, genes controlling parasites’ elimination or dissemination have never been mapped. We therefore compared genetics of the clinical and immunologic symptomatology with parasite load in (BALB/c × CcS-11) F2 hybrids and mapped five loci, two of which control parasite elimination or dissemination. Lmr5 influences parasite loads in spleens (and skin lesions, splenomegaly, and serum IgE, IL-4, and IFNγ levels), and Lmr20 determines parasite numbers in draining lymph nodes (and serum levels of IgE and IFNγ), but no skin or visceral pathology. Three additional loci do not affect parasite numbers but influence significantly the disease phenotype—Lmr21: skin lesions and IFNγ levels, Lmr22: IL-4 levels, Lmr23: IFNγ levels, indicating that development of L. major-caused disease includes critical regulations additional to control of parasite spread.

Keywords: Leishmania major, Mouse, Genetics of parasite elimination, Susceptibility to leishmaniasis, Functional heterogeneity

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