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Vitamin D has been reported to activate macrophage microbicidal mechanisms by inducing the production of antimicrobial peptides and nitric oxide (NO), but conversely has been shown to contribute to a greater susceptibility to Leishmania amazonensis infection in mice. Thus, this study aimed to evaluate the role of vitamin D during intracellular infection with L. amazonensis by examining its effect on macrophage oxidative mechanisms and parasite survival in vitro. Vitamins D2 and D3 significantly inhibited promastigote and amastigote growth in vitro. Vitamin D3 was not able to induce NO and reactive oxygen species (ROS) production in uninfected macrophages or macrophages infected with L. amazonensis. In addition, vitamin D3 in combination with interferon (IFN)-γ did not enhance amastigote killing and in fact, significantly reduced NO and ROS production when compared with the effect of IFN-γ alone. In this study, we demonstrated that vitamin D directly reduces parasite growth in infected macrophages (approximately 50–60% at 50 μm) but this effect is independent of the activation of macrophage oxidative mechanisms. These findings will contribute to a better understanding of the role of vitamin D in cutaneous leishmaniasis.
Cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) is a major health problem in many countries and its current treatment involves multiple parenteral injections with toxic drugs and requires intensive health services. Previously, the efficacy of a single subcutaneous injection with a slow-release formulation consisting of poly(lactide-co-glycolide) (PLGA) microparticles loaded with an antileishmanial 3-nitro-2-hydroxy-4,6-dimethoxychalcone (CH8) was demonstrated in mice model. In the search for more easily synthesized active chalcone derivatives, and improved microparticle loading, CH8 analogues were synthesized and tested for antileishmanial activity in vitro and in vivo. The 3-nitro-2′,4′,6′-trimethoxychalcone (NAT22) analogue was chosen for its higher selectivity against intracellular amastigotes (selectivity index = 1489, as compared with 317 for CH8) and more efficient synthesis (89% yield, as compared with 18% for CH8). NAT22 was loaded into PLGA / polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) polymeric blend microspheres (NAT22-PLGAk) with average diameter of 1.9 μm. Although NAT22-PLGAk showed similar activity to free NAT22 in killing intracellular parasites in vitro (IC50 ~ 0.2 μm), in vivo studies in Leishmania amazonensis – infected mice demonstrated the significant superior efficacy of NAT22-PLGAk to reduce the parasite load. A single intralesional injection with NAT22-PLGAk was more effective than eight injections with free NAT22. Together, these results show that NAT22-PLGAk is a promising alternative for single-dose localized treatment of CL.
Leishmaniasis is a vector-borne neglected tropical disease caused by protozoan parasites of the genus Leishmania for which there is a paucity of effective viable non-toxic drugs. There are 1·3 million new cases each year causing considerable socio-economic hardship, best measured in 2·4 million disability adjusted life years, with greatest impact on the poorest communities, which means that desperately needed new antileishmanial treatments have to be both affordable and accessible. Established medicines with cheaper and faster development times may hold the cure for this neglected tropical disease. This concept of using old drugs for new diseases may not be novel but, with the ambitious target of controlling or eradicating tropical diseases by 2020, this strategy is still an important one. In this review, we will explore the current state-of-the-art of drug repurposing strategies in the search for new treatments for leishmaniasis.
The CAF01 adjuvant has previously been shown to be safe for human use and to be a potent adjuvant for several vaccine antigens. In the present work, we sought to optimize the Leishmania amazonensis antigens (LaAg) intranasal vaccine in an attempt to enhance the protective immune responses against Leishmania (infantum) chagasi by using the CAF01 association. LaAg/CAF01 vaccinated mice that were challenged 15 days after booster dose with L. (infantum) chagasi showed a significant reduction in their parasite burden in both the spleen and liver, which is associated with an increase in specific production of IFN-γ and nitrite, and a decrease in IL-4 production. In addition, LaAg/CAF01 intranasal delivery was able to increase lymphoproliferative immune responses after parasite antigen recall. These results suggest the feasibility of using the intranasal route for the delivery of crude antigens and of a human-compatible adjuvant against visceral leishmaniasis.
LACK (Leishmania analogue of the receptor kinase C) is a conserved protein in the protozoan of the genus Leishmania, which is associated with the immunopathogenesis and susceptibility of BALB/c mice to Leishmania major infection. We previously demonstrated that intranasal immunization with a plasmid DNA encoding the p36/LACK leishmanial antigen (pCI-neo-LACK) followed by challenge 7 days after a booster dose effectively protects BALB/c mice against both cutaneous and visceral leishmaniasis. In the present study, the correlation between systemic mRNA expression after nasal DNA uptake, and the duration of protective immunity was addressed. LACK mRNA transcripts were detected in the spleen, brain, cervical lymph nodes and popliteal lymph nodes as early as 7 days, lasting 3 months after vaccination with pCI-neo-LACK. The kinetics of transcript expression correlated with enhanced cutaneous hypersensitivity against parasite antigens. Leishmania chagasi infection at 7 days or 3 months, but not 6 months after vaccination resulted in significantly lower parasite loads as compared with non-vaccinated controls. Protection also correlated with enhanced spleen cell responsiveness to parasite antigens leading to increased IFN- γ and IL-4 and decreased IL-10 production. Together, these data demonstrate that the protection conferred by the intranasal DNA vaccine lasts at least 3 months and is associated with expression of vaccine mRNA in peripheral organs.
LACK (Leishmania analogue of the receptor kinase C) is a conserved protein in protozoans of the genus Leishmania which is associated with the immunopathogenesis and susceptibility of BALB/c mice to L. major infection. Previously, we demonstrated that intranasal immunization with a plasmid carrying the LACK gene of Leishmania infantum (LACK-DNA) promotes protective immunity in BALB/c mice against Leishmania amazonensis and Leishmania chagasi. In the present study, we investigated the protective immunity achieved in hamsters intranasally vaccinated with 2 doses of LACK-DNA (30 μg). Compared with controls (PBS and pCI-neo plasmid), animals vaccinated with LACK-DNA showed significant reduction in parasite loads in the spleen and liver, increased lymphoproliferative response and increased nitric oxide (NO) production by parasite antigen-stimulated splenocytes. Furthermore, hamsters vaccinated with LACK-DNA presented high IgG and IgG2a serum levels when compared to control animals. Our results showed that intranasal vaccination with LACK-DNA promotes protective immune responses in hamsters and demonstrated the broad spectrum of intranasal LACK-DNA efficacy in different host species, confirming previous results in murine cutaneous and visceral leishmaniasis.
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