Leishmania is the causative protozoan parasite of leishmaniasis. Distinct species provoke localized/diffuse cutaneous leishmaniasis or visceral leishmaniasis. Leishmania parasites have developed diverse strategies to evade the host immune response expressed through various cells, especially macrophages, NK cells, and dendritic cells. Participating in some of these strategies are Leishmania surface molecules, such as lipophosphoglycan (LPG) and protease gp63, which are thus considered virulence factors. LPG has been shown to modulate proinflammatory responses. For example, L. major LPG activates NK cells through toll-like receptor-2 (TLR2), while L. mexicana LPG elicits a differential production of cytokines in human dendritic cells and monocytes. Moreover, L. mexicana LPG activates MAP kinases in macrophages, which in turn enhance proinflammatory cytokine production through TLRs. Additionally, Leishmania exosomes have been found to strongly affect macrophage signaling and functions. Furthermore, proteins secreted by Leishmania promastigotes and amastigotes modulate the production of proinflammatory cytokines in human macrophages. Since Leishmania is an obligate intracellular parasite, its promastigotes utilize several mechanisms to survive and duplicate inside host cells, including the inhibition of apoptosis. It is now clear that MAPK p38, JNK, ERK 1/2, and PI3K/Akt participate in the inhibition of both natural and induced apoptosis of macrophages, neutrophils, and dendritic cells.
Part of the book: Leishmaniases as Re-emerging Diseases
Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are important for the host immune response to a variety of pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. These receptors become activated upon recognizing pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) and thus initiate the innate immune response to the corresponding pathogen. A key aspect of TLRs is their activation of signaling that leads to cytokine production and an inflammatory response. Additionally, TLRs act as the bridge between innate and acquired immunity, enhancing phagocytosis and the process of killing parasites. We herein focus on how parasites (protozoans and helminths) and their derived products have the capability of stimulating or evading the host response by triggering or inhibiting TLR activation. Parasites often develop successful survival strategies that imply interference with the host immune response. Accordingly, many of these organisms have molecules that modulate inflammation and other aspects of host immunity. Taking advantage of such mechanisms, there are some anti-inflammatory therapies based on human infection with helminths. Helminths and protozoans influence the activity of various TLRs, especially TLR2, TLR4, and TLR9. A better understanding of the role of TLRs and their parasite-derived ligands should certainly provide new therapeutic tools for combatting various parasitic and inflammatory diseases.
Part of the book: Toll-like Receptors