Inflammatory chemokines and their receptors in human visceral leishmaniasis: Gene expression profile in peripheral blood, splenic cellular sources and their impact on trafficking of inflammatory cells

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Chemokines play an important role in determining cellular composition at inflammatory sites, and as such, influence disease outcome. In this study, we investigated the expression profile and splenic cellular source of various inflammatory chemokines and their receptors in human visceral leishmaniasis (VL). The expression of chemokines or their receptors was measured at the gene and protein level by employing real time qPCR and a cytometric bead array assay, respectively. In addition, the cellular source of chemokines and their receptors in the spleen was identified employing gene expression analyses in sequentially selected cell subsets. We identified elevated expression of CXCL10, CXCL9, CXCL8, and decreased CCL2 from VL patients. Further, we found reduced expression of the chemokine receptors CXCR1, CXCR2, CXCR3 and CCR2, but increased expression of CCR7 on VL PBMC, compared to endemic healthy controls. Additionally, splenic monocytes were found to be the major source of CXCL10, CXCL9 and CCR2, whereas T cells were the main source of CXCR3 and CCR7. We also report a strong association between plasma IFN-γ and CXCL-10, CXCL-9 levels. Enhanced parasite burden positively correlates with increased expression of CXCL10, CXCL9, IFN-γ and IL-10. Overall our result indicates that VL patients have an elevated inflammatory chemokine milieu which correlated with disease severity. However, expression of their chemokine receptors was significantly impaired, which may have contributed to reduced frequencies of blood monocytes and neutrophils in peripheral blood. In contrast, enhanced expression of CCR7 was associated with increased numbers of activated T cells in circulation. These findings highlight the importance of chemokines for recruitment of various cell populations in VL, and the knowledge gained may help in global understandings of the complex interaction between chemokines and pathological processes, and therefore will contribute towards the design of novel chemokine based immunological therapies against VL.

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