Splenic CD4+ T cells in progressive visceral leishmaniasis show a mixed effector-regulatory phenotype and impair macrophage effector function through inhibitory receptor expression

Audrie Colorado, Elvia Y. Osorio, Omar A. Saldarriaga, Bruno Travi, Fanping Kong, Heidi Spratt, Lynn Soong, Peter Melby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Visceral leishmaniasis (VL), caused by infection with the intracellular protozoan Leishmania donovani, is a chronic progressive disease with a relentlessly increasing parasite burden in the spleen, liver and bone marrow. The disease is characterized by fever, splenomegaly, cachexia, and pancytopenia, and progresses to death if not treated. Control of Leishmania infection is mediated by Th1 (IFNγ-producing) CD4+ T cells, which activate macrophages to produce nitric oxide and kill intracellular parasites. However, despite expansion of CD4+ T cells and increased IFNγ expression in the spleen, humans with active VL do not control the infection. We used an experimental model of chronic progressive VL in hamsters, which mimics clinical and pathological features seen in humans, to better understand the mechanisms that lead to progressive disease. Transcriptional profiling of the spleen during chronic infection revealed expression of markers of both T cell activation and inhibition. CD4+ T cells isolated from the spleen during chronic progressive VL showed mixed expression of Th1 and Th2 cytokines and chemokines, and were marginally effective in controlling infection in an ex vivo T cell-macrophage co-culture system. Splenic CD4+ T cells and macrophages from hamsters with VL showed increased expression of inhibitory receptors and their ligands, respectively. Blockade of the inhibitory receptor PD-L2 led to a significant decrease in parasite burden, revealing a pathogenic role for the PD-1 pathway in chronic VL. PD-L2 blockade was associated with a dramatic reduction in expression of host arginase 1, but no change in IFNy and inducible nitric oxide synthase. Thus, the expression of counter-regulatory molecules on splenic CD4+ T cells and macrophages promotes a more permissive macrophage phenotype and attenuates intracellular parasite control in chronic progressive VL. Host-directed adjunctive therapy targeting the PD-1 regulatory pathway may be efficacious for VL.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0169496
JournalPLoS One
Volume12
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

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visceral leishmaniasis
Visceral Leishmaniasis
T-cells
Macrophages
macrophages
T-lymphocytes
T-Lymphocytes
Phenotype
phenotype
receptors
spleen
Spleen
parasites
Parasites
Infection Control
hamsters
Cricetinae
infection
Infection
Arginase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

Cite this

Splenic CD4+ T cells in progressive visceral leishmaniasis show a mixed effector-regulatory phenotype and impair macrophage effector function through inhibitory receptor expression. / Colorado, Audrie; Osorio, Elvia Y.; Saldarriaga, Omar A.; Travi, Bruno; Kong, Fanping; Spratt, Heidi; Soong, Lynn; Melby, Peter.

In: PLoS One, Vol. 12, No. 1, e0169496, 01.01.2017.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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abstract = "Visceral leishmaniasis (VL), caused by infection with the intracellular protozoan Leishmania donovani, is a chronic progressive disease with a relentlessly increasing parasite burden in the spleen, liver and bone marrow. The disease is characterized by fever, splenomegaly, cachexia, and pancytopenia, and progresses to death if not treated. Control of Leishmania infection is mediated by Th1 (IFNγ-producing) CD4+ T cells, which activate macrophages to produce nitric oxide and kill intracellular parasites. However, despite expansion of CD4+ T cells and increased IFNγ expression in the spleen, humans with active VL do not control the infection. We used an experimental model of chronic progressive VL in hamsters, which mimics clinical and pathological features seen in humans, to better understand the mechanisms that lead to progressive disease. Transcriptional profiling of the spleen during chronic infection revealed expression of markers of both T cell activation and inhibition. CD4+ T cells isolated from the spleen during chronic progressive VL showed mixed expression of Th1 and Th2 cytokines and chemokines, and were marginally effective in controlling infection in an ex vivo T cell-macrophage co-culture system. Splenic CD4+ T cells and macrophages from hamsters with VL showed increased expression of inhibitory receptors and their ligands, respectively. Blockade of the inhibitory receptor PD-L2 led to a significant decrease in parasite burden, revealing a pathogenic role for the PD-1 pathway in chronic VL. PD-L2 blockade was associated with a dramatic reduction in expression of host arginase 1, but no change in IFNy and inducible nitric oxide synthase. Thus, the expression of counter-regulatory molecules on splenic CD4+ T cells and macrophages promotes a more permissive macrophage phenotype and attenuates intracellular parasite control in chronic progressive VL. Host-directed adjunctive therapy targeting the PD-1 regulatory pathway may be efficacious for VL.",
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