Exposure of phosphatidylserine on leishmania amazonensis isolates is associated with diffuse cutaneous leishmaniasis and parasite infectivity

Jaqueline França-Costa, João Luiz Mendes Wanderley, Poliana Deolindo, Jessica B. Zarattini, Jackson Costa, Lynn Soong, Marcello André Barcinski, Aldina Barral, Valeria M. Borges

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30 Scopus citations


Diffuse cutaneous leishmaniasis (DCL) is a rare clinical manifestation of leishmaniasis, characterized by an inefficient parasite-specific cellular response and heavily parasitized macrophages. In Brazil, Leishmania (Leishmania) amazonensis is the main species involved in DCL cases. In the experimental model, recognition of phosphatidylserine (PS) molecules exposed on the surface of amastigotes forms of L. amazonensis inhibits the inflammatory response of infected macrophages as a strategy to evade the host immune surveillance. In this study, we examined whether PS exposure on L. amazonensis isolates from DCL patients operated as a parasite pathogenic factor and as a putative suppression mechanism of immune response during the infection. Peritoneal macrophages from F1 mice (BALB/c×C57BL/6) were infected with different L. amazonensis isolates from patients with localized cutaneous leishmaniasis (LCL) or DCL. DCL isolates showed higher PS exposure than their counterparts from LCL patients. In addition, PS exposure was positively correlated with clinical parameters of the human infection (number of lesions and time of disease) and with characteristics of the experimental infection (macrophage infection and anti-inflammatory cytokine induction). Furthermore, parasites isolated from DCL patients displayed an increased area in parasitophorous vacuoles (PV) when compared to those isolated from LCL patients. Thus, this study shows for the first time that a parasite factor (exposed PS) might be associated with parasite survival/persistence in macrophages and lesion exacerbation during the course of DCL, providing new insights regarding pathogenic mechanism in this rare chronic disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere36595
JournalPloS one
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 4 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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