HIV aspartyl protease inhibitors modify the percentage of activated leukocytes, as well as serum levels of IL-17A and NO during experimental leishmaniasis

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HIV aspartyl protease inhibitors are able to modulate multiple defense mechanisms. However, their influence on the immune response against Leishmania has rarely been investigated. The aim of our study was to investigate whether in vivo treatment with HIV aspartyl protease inhibitors is able to modulate the immune response during Leishmania infection. Using Leishmania (L.) amazonensis-infected mice, we analyzed the disease evolution and parasite load, immunophenotypic profiles of splenic T and B lymphocytes, numbers of lymphoid aggregates in the spleen, percentages of circulating atypical lymphocytes and reactive monocytes, and serum levels of cytokines and nitric oxide (NO) after 30days of oral treatment with lopinavir/ritonavir (LPV/RTV) or atazanavir (ATV). We observed that LPV/RTV and ATV did not modify the disease evolution or parasite load. However, the antiretroviral treatment induced an increase in activated lymphocytes in the spleen and blood, as well as a decrease in CD69 expression in T and B lymphocytes in the spleen. The treatment also resulted in an increase in activated monocytes in the blood. In addition, antiretrovirals decreased levels of IL-17A and increased levels of NO in sera from Leishmania-infected mice. Thus, our results demonstrate for the first time that in vivo treatment with HIV aspartyl protease inhibitors modifies innate and adaptative immune responses during Leishmania infection and suggest that these drugs could change the clinical course of leishmaniasis in HIV infected-individuals.HIGHLIGHTSLPV/RTV and ATV increased the percentages of large splenic T and B lymphocytes.After ATV treatment, large splenic T lymphocytes had decreased CD69 expression.The number of splenic lymphoid aggregates was higher after ATV treatment.ATV increased the percentages of circulating atypical lymphocytes and reactive monocytes.LPV/RTV and ATV modified serum levels of IL-17A and NO.

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