Host arginase 1 (arg1) expression is a significant contributor to the pathogenesis of progressive visceral leishmaniasis (VL), a neglected tropical disease caused by the intracellular protozoan Leishmania donovani. Previously we found that parasite-induced arg1 expression in macrophages was dependent on STAT6 activation. Arg1 expression was amplified by, but did not require, IL-4, and required de novo synthesis of unknown protein(s). To further explore the mechanisms involved in arg1 regulation in VL, we screened a panel of kinase inhibitors and found that inhibitors of growth factor signaling reduced arg1 expression in splenic macrophages from hamsters with VL. Analysis of growth factors and their signaling pathways revealed that the Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptor 1 (FGFR-1) and Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 Receptor (IGF-1R) and a number of downstream signaling proteins were activated in splenic macrophages isolated from hamsters infected with L. donovani. Recombinant FGF-2 and IGF-1 increased the expression of arg1 in L. donovani infected hamster macrophages, and this induction was augmented by IL-4. Inhibition of FGFR-1 and IGF-1R decreased arg1 expression and restricted L. donovani replication in both in vitro and ex vivo models of infection. Inhibition of the downstream signaling molecules JAK and AKT also reduced the expression of arg1 in infected macrophages. STAT6 was activated in infected macrophages exposed to either FGF-2 or IGF-1, and STAT6 was critical to the FGFR-1- and IGF-1R-mediated expression of arg1. The converse was also true as inhibition of FGFR-1 and IGF-1R reduced the activation of STAT6 in infected macrophages. Collectively, these data indicate that the FGFR/IGF-1R and IL-4 signaling pathways converge at STAT6 to promote pathologic arg1 expression and intracellular parasite survival in VL. Targeted interruption of these pathological processes offers an approach to restrain this relentlessly progressive disease.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology