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PLoS Negl Trop Dis. Apr 2012; 6(4): e1566.
Published online Apr 10, 2012. doi:  10.1371/journal.pntd.0001566
PMCID: PMC3323520

Higher Expression of CCL2, CCL4, CCL5, CCL21, and CXCL8 Chemokines in the Skin Associated with Parasite Density in Canine Visceral Leishmaniasis

Hechmi Louzir, Editor

Abstract

Background

The immune response in the skin of dogs infected with Leishmania infantum is poorly understood, and limited studies have described the immunopathological profile with regard to distinct levels of tissue parasitism and the clinical progression of canine visceral leishmaniasis (CVL).

Methodology/Principal Findings

A detailed analysis of inflammatory cells (neutrophils, eosinophils, mast cells, lymphocytes, and macrophages) as well as the expression of chemokines (CCL2, CCL4, CCL5, CCL13, CCL17, CCL21, CCL24, and CXCL8) was carried out in dermis skin samples from 35 dogs that were naturally infected with L. infantum. The analysis was based on real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in the context of skin parasitism and the clinical status of CVL. We demonstrated increased inflammatory infiltrate composed mainly of mononuclear cells in the skin of animals with severe forms of CVL and high parasite density. Analysis of the inflammatory cell profile of the skin revealed an increase in the number of macrophages and reductions in lymphocytes, eosinophils, and mast cells that correlated with clinical progression of the disease. Additionally, enhanced parasite density was correlated with an increase in macrophages and decreases in eosinophils and mast cells. The chemokine mRNA expression demonstrated that enhanced parasite density was positively correlated with the expression of CCL2, CCL4, CCL5, CCL21, and CXCL8. In contrast, there was a negative correlation between parasite density and CCL24 expression.

Conclusions/Significance

These findings represent an advance in the knowledge about skin inflammatory infiltrates in CVL and the systemic consequences. Additionally, the findings may contribute to the design of new and more efficient prophylactic tools and immunological therapies against CVL.

Author Summary

Several previous studies correlated immunopathological aspects of canine visceral leishmaniasis (CVL) with tissue parasite load and/or the clinical status of the disease. Recently, different aspects of the immune response in Leishmania-infected dogs have been studied, particularly the profile of cytokines in distinct compartments. However, the role of chemokines in disease progression or parasite burdens of the visceralising species represents an important approach for understanding immunopathology in CVL. We found an increase in inflammatory infiltrate, which was mainly composed of mononuclear cells, in the skin of animals presenting severe forms of CVL and high parasite density. Our data also demonstrated that enhanced parasite density is positively correlated with the expression of CCL2, CCL4, CCL5, CCL21, and CXCL8. In contrast, there was a negative correlation between parasite density and CCL24 expression. These findings represent an advance in the knowledge of the involvement of skin inflammatory infiltrates in CVL and the systemic consequences and may contribute to developing a rational strategy for the design of new and more efficient prophylactic tools and immunological therapies against CVL.


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