Toepp AJ, Petersen CA
Immune control of Leishmania infantum, the causative agent of most canine leishmaniosis (CanL), requires a balancing act between inflammatory and regulatory responses. This balance is specifically between the proinflammatory T helper 1 type (Th1) CD4+ T cells that are responsible for controlling parasite replication and T regulatory 1 cells which mediate an immunosuppressive, regulatory, response needed to dampen overabundant inflammation but if predominant, result in CanL progression. How this delicate immune cell interaction occurs in the dog will be highlighted in this review, focusing on the progressive changes observed within myeloid lineage cells (predominantly macrophages), B cells and T cells. After exposure to parasites, macrophages should become activated, eliminating L. infantum through release of reactive oxygen species. Unfortunately, multiple parasite and host factors can prevent macrophage activation allowing parasites to persist within them. T cells balance between a productive TH1 type CD4+ response capable of producing IFN-γ which aids macrophage activation versus T cell exhaustion which reduces T cell proliferation, IFN-γ production and allows parasite expansion within macrophages. Neutrophils and Th17 cells add to the inflammatory state, aiding in parasite removal, but also leading to pathology. A regulatory B cell population increases IL-10 production and down regulates the TH1 response allowing parasite growth. All of these immune challenges affect the balance between progression to clinical disease and maintaining sub-clinical disease. Vaccines and immunotherapies targeted at recovering or maintaining T and B cell function can be important factors in mending the immune balance required to survive CanL.
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