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PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2013;7(2):e2077. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0002077. Epub 2013 Feb 21.

UCP2 deficiency helps to restrict the pathogenesis of experimental cutaneous and visceral leishmaniosis in mice.

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  • 1Department of Animal Health, Veterinary Faculty, Complutense University of Madrid, Madrid, Spain.



Uncoupling protein 2 (UCP2) is a mitochondrial transporter that has been shown to lower the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Intracellular pathogens such as Leishmania upregulate UCP2 and thereby suppress ROS production in infected host tissues, allowing the multiplication of parasites within murine phagocytes. This makes host UCP2 and ROS production potential targets in the development of antileishmanial therapies. Here we explore how UCP2 affects the outcome of cutaneous leishmaniosis (CL) and visceral leishmaniosis (VL) in wild-type (WT) C57BL/6 mice and in C57BL/6 mice lacking the UCP2 gene (UCP2KO).


To investigate the effects of host UCP2 deficiency on Leishmania infection, we evaluated parasite loads and cytokine production in target organs. Parasite loads were significantly lower in infected UCP2KO mice than in infected WT mice. We also found that UCP2KO mice produced significantly more interferon-γ (IFN-γ), IL-17 and IL-13 than WT mice (P<0.05), suggesting that UCP2KO mice are resistant to Leishmania infection.


In this way, UCP2KO mice were better able than their WT counterparts to overcome L. major and L. infantum infections. These findings suggest that upregulating host ROS levels, perhaps by inhibiting UPC2, may be an effective approach to preventing leishmaniosis.

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