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Eur J Immunol. 1998 Aug;28(8):2467-77.

Phagocytosis of Leishmania mexicana amastigotes by macrophages leads to a sustained suppression of IL-12 production.

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Max-Planck-Institut für Biologie, Abteilung Membranbiochemie, Tübingen, Germany.


Healing of leishmaniases is dependent on activation of parasitized macrophages (Mphi) by IFN-gamma, which is secreted by Leishmania-specific Th1 cells. IL-12 enhances IFN-gamma production by Th1 cells and is crucial for cure. The host cells of Leishmania sp., Mphi, are a main source of IL-12 in vivo. We report that infection of quiescent murine Mphi with L. mexicana or L. major amastigotes does not induce IL-12 production. Moreover, infection suppresses IL-12 secretion by Mphi activated by LPS, by CD40 cross-linking or cognate interaction with Th1 cells. IL-12 secretion is also suppressed in Mphi activated after phagocytosis of latex beads. Suppression is independent of engagement of CR3 or FcgammaR during phagocytosis, is not mediated by IL-10 and does not alter steady state IL-12p40 mRNA levels. In addition, suppression of IL-12 secretion does not depend on Mphi activation concurrent to infection. In contrast, NO production was not inhibited. Thus, Mphi effector functions are differentially affected and this may be a general effect of phagocytosis of non-activating particles. The possible implications of this effect on the infection are discussed.

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