Intradermal inoculations of low doses of Leishmania major and Leishmania amazonensis metacyclic promastigotes induce different immunoparasitic processes and status of protection in BALB/c mice

Nathalie Courret, Thierry Lang, Geneviève Milon, Jean Claude Antoine
International Journal for Parasitology 2003, 33 (12): 1373-83
In order to simulate the natural long term parasitisms which may occur in mammals infected with Leishmania, cutaneous leishmaniases due to Leishmania major or Leishmania amazonensis were induced using a model based on the inoculation of 10-1000 metacyclic promastigotes into the ear dermis of BALB/c mice. The final outcome of these parasitisms was dependent upon the number of inoculated parasites. Only some of the mice inoculated with ten parasites displayed cutaneous lesions, whereas most mice infected with 100 metacyclics and all mice infected with 1000 metacyclics developed progressive lesions. We found, using the latter experimental conditions, that the onset of the pathology was associated with: (a) parasite multiplication in the inoculation site and the draining lymph node correlating with an increase of the lymph node cell number, especially in L. major-infected mice; and (b) the detection of lymph node cells, at least in part CD4(+) T lymphocytes, able to produce high levels of interferon-gamma, interleukin (IL)-4, IL-10 and IL-13. Thereafter, mice infected by L. major harboured few parasites in the ear and had a 100-fold reduction in lymph node parasite load between 23 and 40 weeks post-inoculation. In contrast, the parasite loads of L. amazonensis-infected mice remained stable in the ear and increased in nodes during the same period of time. Only L. major-infected mice that exhibited cutaneous lesions in the primary site were resistant to the re-inoculation of 1000 metacyclic promastigotes, whereas all L. amazonensis-primary infected mice remained susceptible to a second homologous challenge. These results are the first to document that a status of resistance to re-infection, referred to concomitant immunity, is coupled to the development of primary progressive lesions in L. major-infected BALB/c mice. Such a protective status is absent in L. amazonensis-infected BALB/c mice.

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