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Clin Exp Immunol. 2008 Nov;154(2):224-34. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2249.2008.03741.x. Epub 2008 Sep 5.

Leishmania donovani infection down-regulates TLR2-stimulated IL-12p40 and activates IL-10 in cells of macrophage/monocytic lineage by modulating MAPK pathways through a contact-dependent mechanism.

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Department of Immunology, Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Raebareli Road, Lucknow, India.


The failure of Leishmania, an intracellular pathogen, to stimulate a pro-inflammatory response following entry into macrophages has been well reported. This occurs in spite of the fact that ligands for the toll-like receptors (TLR) have been recently shown on the parasite surface and their role in disease protection well documented. The outcome of infection in leishmaniasis is determined by the Th1 versus Th2 nature of the effector response and the generation of IL-12 and IL-10 by the infected macrophages is important for this decision. We evaluated the effect of L. donovani infection of monocytes (cell line THP-1, and monocytes derived from human peripheral blood) on Pam3cys (TLR2 ligand) and lipopolysaccharide (TLR4 ligand) stimulated production of IL-12p40 and IL-10. L. donovani infection caused suppression of TLR2 and TLR4-stimulated IL-12p40, with an increase in IL-10 production. Parasites also modulated the TLR2-stimulated mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway by suppressing MAPK P(38) phosphorylation and activating extracellular regulated kinase (ERK)1/2 phosphorylation. These effects could be reversed either by using a MAPK P(38) activator, anisomycin, or ERK1/2 inhibitor, U0126. L. donovani caused modulation of TLR2-stimulated MAPK pathways in a contact-dependent mechanism. In addition parasite structural integrity but not viability was required for suppression of TLR2-stimulated IL-12p40 and activation of IL-10. These observations suggest that L. donovani has evolved survival strategies that subvert the pro-inflammatory response generated through TLRs.

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