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Acta Trop. 2017 Dec;176:355-363. doi: 10.1016/j.actatropica.2017.08.017. Epub 2017 Aug 24.

Profiling gene expression of antimony response genes in Leishmania (Viannia) panamensis and infected macrophages and its relationship with drug susceptibility.

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Centro Internacional de Entrenamiento e Investigaciones Médicas (CIDEIM), Carrera 125 No. 19-225 Cali, Colombia.
Yale School of Medicine and Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, CT, USA.
Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, CT, USA.
Centro Internacional de Entrenamiento e Investigaciones Médicas (CIDEIM), Carrera 125 No. 19-225 Cali, Colombia. Electronic address:


The mechanisms of Leishmania resistance to antimonials have been primarily determined in experimentally derived Leishmania strains. However, their participation in the susceptibility phenotype in field isolates has not been conclusively established. Being an intracellular parasite, the activity of antileishmanials is dependent on internalization of drugs into host cells and effective delivery to the intracellular compartments inhabited by the parasite. In this study we quantified and comparatively analyzed the gene expression of nine molecules involved in mechanisms of xenobiotic detoxification and Leishmania resistance to antimonial drugs in resistant and susceptible laboratory derived and clinical L.(Viannia) panamensis strains(n=19). In addition, we explored the impact of Leishmania susceptibility to antimonials on the expression of macrophage gene products having putative functions in transport, accumulation and metabolism of antimonials. As previously shown for other Leishmania species, a trend of increased abcc3 and lower aqp-1 expression was observed in the laboratory derived Sb-resistant L.(V.) panamensis line. However, this was not found in clinical strains, in which the expression of abca2 was significantly higher in resistant strains as both, promastigotes and intracellular amastigotes. The effect of drug susceptibility on host cell gene expression was evaluated on primary human macrophages from patients with cutaneous leishmaniasis (n=17) infected ex-vivo with the matched L.(V.) panamensis strains isolated at diagnosis, and in THP-1 cells infected with clinical strains (n=6) and laboratory adapted L.(V.) panamensis lines. Four molecules, abcb1 (p-gp), abcb6, aqp-9 and mt2a were differentially modulated by drug resistant and susceptible parasites, and among these, a consistent and significantly increased expression of the xenobiotic scavenging molecule mt2a was observed in macrophages infected with Sb-susceptible L. (V.) panamensis. Our results substantiate that different mechanisms of drug resistance operate in laboratory adapted and clinical Leishmania strains, and provide evidence that parasite-mediated modulation of host cell gene expression of molecules involved in drug transport and metabolism could contribute to the mechanisms of drug resistance and susceptibility in Leishmania.


ABC transporter; Aquaporin; Leishmania Viannia panamensis; Macrophage; Meglumine antimoniate

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