Author(s): Santos LO, Marinho FA, Alto EF, Vitrio BS, Alves CR,
Abstract Share this page
Abstract BACKGROUND: Leishmania is the etiologic agent of leishmanisais, a protozoan disease whose pathogenic events are not well understood. Current therapy is suboptimal due to toxicity of the available therapeutic agents and the emergence of drug resistance. Compounding these problems is the increase in the number of cases of Leishmania-HIV coinfection, due to the overlap between the AIDS epidemic and leishmaniasis. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: In the present report, we have investigated the effect of HIV aspartyl peptidase inhibitors (PIs) on the Leishmania amazonensis proliferation, ultrastructure, interaction with macrophage cells and expression of classical peptidases which are directly involved in the Leishmania pathogenesis. All the HIV PIs impaired parasite growth in a dose-dependent fashion, especially nelfinavir and lopinavir. HIV PIs treatment caused profound changes in the leishmania ultrastructure as shown by transmission electron microscopy, including cytoplasm shrinking, increase in the number of lipid inclusions and some cells presenting the nucleus closely wrapped by endoplasmic reticulum resembling an autophagic process, as well as chromatin condensation which is suggestive of apoptotic death. The hydrolysis of HIV peptidase substrate by L. amazonensis extract was inhibited by pepstatin and HIV PIs, suggesting that an aspartyl peptidase may be the intracellular target of the inhibitors. The treatment with HIV PIs of either the promastigote forms preceding the interaction with macrophage cells or the amastigote forms inside macrophages drastically reduced the association indexes. Despite all these beneficial effects, the HIV PIs induced an increase in the expression of cysteine peptidase b (cpb) and the metallopeptidase gp63, two well-known virulence factors expressed by Leishmania spp. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: In the face of leishmaniasis/HIV overlap, it is critical to further comprehend the sophisticated interplays among Leishmania, HIV and macrophages. In addition, there are many unresolved questions related to the management of Leishmania-HIV-coinfected patients. For instance, the efficacy of therapy aimed at controlling each pathogen in coinfected individuals remains largely undefined. The results presented herein add new in vitro insight into the wide spectrum efficacy of HIV PIs and suggest that additional studies about the synergistic effects of classical antileishmanial compounds and HIV PIs in macrophages coinfected with Leishmania and HIV-1 should be performed.
This article was published in PLoS One
and referenced in Journal of Antimicrobial Agents