Compensation for decreased expression of B7 molecules on Leishmania infantum-infected canine macrophages results in restoration of parasite-specific T-cell proliferation and gamma interferon production

E Pinelli, V P Rutten, M Bruysters, P F Moore, E J Ruitenberg
Infection and Immunity 1999, 67 (1): 237-43
Infection of humans and dogs by Leishmania infantum may result in visceral leishmaniasis, which is characterized by impaired T-cell-mediated immune responses to parasite antigens. Dogs are natural hosts of Leishmania parasites and play an important role in the transmission of the parasites to humans. In an effort to characterize the immune response in dogs infected with this intracellular pathogen, we examined how infection with L. infantum affects canine macrophages and the consequences for T-cell activation in vitro. We showed that the proliferation of T-cell lines to cognate antigen decreases to background levels when infected autologous monocyte-derived macrophages are used as antigen-presenting cells (APC). The observed reduction of antigen-specific T-cell proliferation was shown to be dependent on the parasite load and to require cell-to-cell interaction of T cells with the infected APC. In addition, we observed a decreased expression of costimulatory B7 molecules on infected monocyte-derived macrophages. The expression of other surface molecules involved in T-cell activation, such as major histocompatibility complex class I and class II, on these cells did not change upon infection, whereas the expression of intracellular adhesion molecule 1 was marginally increased. Compensation for the decreased expression of B7 molecules by the addition of B7-transfected cells resulted in the restoration of cell proliferation and gamma interferon (IFN-gamma) production by a Leishmania-specific T-cell line. These results showed that for the activation of parasite-specific canine T cells producing IFN-gamma, which are most likely involved in protective immunity, sufficient expression of B7 molecules on infected macrophages is required. Provision of costimulatory molecules may be an approach for immunotherapy of leishmaniaisis as well as for vaccine development.

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