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PLoS Pathog. 2012 Feb;8(2):e1002536. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1002536. Epub 2012 Feb 16.

Efficient capture of infected neutrophils by dendritic cells in the skin inhibits the early anti-leishmania response.

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Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institute of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, United States of America.


Neutrophils and dendritic cells (DCs) converge at localized sites of acute inflammation in the skin following pathogen deposition by the bites of arthropod vectors or by needle injection. Prior studies in mice have shown that neutrophils are the predominant recruited and infected cells during the earliest stage of Leishmania major infection in the skin, and that neutrophil depletion promotes host resistance to sand fly transmitted infection. How the massive influx of neutrophils aimed at wound repair and sterilization might modulate the function of DCs in the skin has not been previously addressed. The infected neutrophils recovered from the skin expressed elevated apoptotic markers compared to uninfected neutrophils, and were preferentially captured by dermal DCs when injected back into the mouse ear dermis. Following challenge with L. major directly, the majority of the infected DCs recovered from the skin at 24 hr stained positive for neutrophil markers, indicating that they acquired their parasites via uptake of infected neutrophils. When infected, dermal DCs were recovered from neutrophil depleted mice, their expression of activation markers was markedly enhanced, as was their capacity to present Leishmania antigens ex vivo. Neutrophil depletion also enhanced the priming of L. major specific CD4(+) T cells in vivo. The findings suggest that following their rapid uptake by neutrophils in the skin, L. major exploits the immunosuppressive effects associated with the apoptotic cell clearance function of DCs to inhibit the development of acquired resistance until the acute neutrophilic response is resolved.

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