Infection by the parasite Leishmania donovani causes Visceral Leishmaniasis, a deadly disease if not properly treated. L. donovani captures the immune defense potential of host macrophages. It disrupts immune homeostasis at least partly by inducing expression of anti-inflammatory cytokines and altering the cellular cytoskeletal framework, thereby creating a niche for its own survival. While inhibition of macrophage Wnt5A signaling promotes infection by the parasite, activation of Wnt5A signaling significantly dampens infection. Experimental evidence suggests that the antagonistic effect of Wnt5A signaling on parasite infection in macrophages may be on account of its influence on the actin cytoskeleton. Importantly, the inhibitory effect of Wnt5A on infection is sustained independent of drug sensitivity and resistance. Keeping in mind that drugs used to treat Visceral Leishmaniasis are quite toxic and the parasite develops drug resistance, revamping host Wnt5A signaling may be useful for eliminating infection independent of drug sensitivity or resistance.
Part of the book: Vector-Borne Diseases