Send to

Choose Destination
Front Immunol. 2017 Jul 26;8:839. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2017.00839. eCollection 2017.

l-Arginine Uptake by Cationic Amino Acid Transporter Promotes Intra-Macrophage Survival of Leishmania donovani by Enhancing Arginase-Mediated Polyamine Synthesis.

Author information

Department of Molecular Biology, Rajendra Memorial Research Institute of Medical Sciences (ICMR), Patna, India.
Department of Microbiology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Patna, India.
Cancer Biology and Inflammatory Disorder Division, CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Biology, Kolkata, India.
Department of Biotechnology, National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, Hajipur, India.


The survival of intracellular protozoan parasite, Leishmania donovani, the causative agent of Indian visceral leishmaniasis (VL), depends on the activation status of macrophages. l-Arginine, a semi-essential amino acid plays a crucial regulatory role for activation of macrophages. However, the role of l-arginine transport in VL still remains elusive. In this study, we demonstrated that intra-macrophage survival of L. donovani depends on the availability of extracellular l-arginine. Infection of THP-1-derived macrophage/human monocyte-derived macrophage (hMDM) with Leishmania, resulted in upregulation of l-arginine transport. While investigating the involvement of the transporters, we observed that Leishmania survival was greatly impaired when the transporters were blocked either using inhibitor or siRNA-mediated downregulation. CAT-2 was found to be the main isoform associated with l-arginine transport in L. donovani-infected macrophages. l-arginine availability and its transport regulated the host arginase in Leishmania infection. Arginase and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) expression were reciprocally regulated when assayed using specific inhibitors and siRNA-mediated downregulation. Interestingly, induction of iNOS expression and nitric oxide production were observed in case of inhibition of arginase in infected macrophages. Furthermore, inhibition of l-arginine transport as well as arginase resulted in decreased polyamine production, limiting parasite survival inside macrophages. l-arginine availability and transport regulated Th1/Th2 cytokine levels in case of Leishmania infection. Upregulation of l-arginine transport, induction of host arginase, and enhanced polyamine production were correlated with increased level of IL-10 and decreased level of IL-12 and TNF-α in L. donovani-infected macrophages. Our findings provide clear evidence for targeting the metabolism of l-arginine and l-arginine-metabolizing enzymes as an important therapeutic and prophylactic strategy to treat VL.


CAT-2; Leishmania; arginase; cytokine; l-arginine; macrophage; nitric oxide; polyamine

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Frontiers Media SA Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center