Quantitative analysis of TNF-α, IL-4, and IL-10 expression, nitric oxide response, and apoptosis inEncephalitozoon cuniculi–infected rabbits

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The expression of tumor necrosis factor (TNF) -α, interleukin (IL) −4 and IL-10, as well as apoptosis and nitric oxide (NO) levels were measured in the brain and kidneys of immunocompetent and immunosuppressed New Zealand White rabbits infected with Encephalitozoon cuniculi. All of the animals had clinical signs histopathological lesions compatible with encephalitozoonosis and were E. cuniculi-positive by using a carbon immunoassay test. Encephalitozoon cuniculi infection promoted the expression of TNF-α and NO production in the kidneys of infected rabbits, and a synergic effect was observed in animal treated with dexamethasone. The IL-4 expression was similar in the brain and kidneys of infected rabbits, regardless of their immunologic status. The IL-10 mRNA expression in the brain of infected immunosuppressed rabbits was elevated when compared with positive controls. Apoptosis of granuloma mononuclear-like cells was detected in immunocompetent E. cuniculi–infected rabbits, but it was more evident in infected-immunosuppressed animals. Nitric oxide levels were elevated both in immunocompetent and immunosuppressed infected animals, but it was more apparent in the kidneys. These data suggest that modulation of the immune response by E. cuniculi could contribute to the survival of the parasite within phagocytic cells in granulomas via an as yet undetermined mechanism.HighlightsEncephalitozoon cuniculi changes the cytokine profile according to the immunologic status of the animal.TNF-α was expressed primarily in the kidneys of infected rabbits.IL-4 is expressed in either the brain or kidneys in immunocompetent and immunosuppressed rabbits.IL-10 regulates the expression of TNF-α in brain of rabbits.Encephalitozoon cuniculi induces and increases NO and apoptosis levels.

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