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Int J Parasitol. 2003 Jul;33(7):713-20.

In vitro induction of microglial and endothelial cell apoptosis by cerebrospinal fluids from patients with human African trypanosomiasis.

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Institute of Tropical Neurology EA 3174, Faculty of Medicine, Limoges, France.


In human African trypanosomiasis, trypanosomes first develop in the blood and lymph (Stage 1), then spread to the central nervous system (CNS) (Stage 2). Disruption of the blood-brain barrier of unknown mechanism occurs in Stage 2 disease. The hypothesis that cerebrospinal fluids (CSF) from African trypanosomiasis patients might contain factor(s) able to induce apoptosis in endothelial cells led us to evaluate this effect by two methods, the TdT-mediated dUTP nick end labelling (TUNEL) method and the measurement of soluble nucleosomes released by apoptotic cells in culture supernatant by ELISA. Apoptosis induction by CSF was also studied with microglial cells, the resident macrophages in the brain, which participate in the blood-brain barrier in the perivascular area. In contrast with control CSF, African trypanosomiasis patients' CSF induced apoptosis in both microglial and endothelial cells. The results obtained with the two methods correlated well, and showed that Stage 2 CSF induced apoptosis at higher levels in microglial cells, whereas the disease stage was not decisive for apoptosis induction in endothelial cells. We measured soluble Fas ligand (sFasL) and anti-Fas antibodies levels, two potent inducers of the Fas signalling pathway leading to apoptosis, in CSF from African trypanosomiasis patients and controls. CSF from African trypanosomiasis patients contained sFasL, and anti-Fas antibodies at higher levels than in controls. Stage 2 CSF contained more sFasL than Stage 1 CSF, and anti-Fas antibodies were detected only in Stage 2 CSF. Caspase-8 inhibitor effect and statistical data suggest that other pro-apoptotic factors may be involved in some CSF-induced apoptosis. Apoptosis induction may participate in the pathogenesis during African trypanosomiasis, and the presence of sFasL and anti-Fas antibodies may provide new tools for diagnosis and prognosis of the disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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