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T cells, adhesion molecules and modulation of apoptosis in visceral leishmaniasis glomerulonephritis

Francisco AL Costa1, Maria G Prianti2, Teresa C Silva3, Silvana MMS Silva1, José L Guerra3 and Hiro Goto24*

Author Affiliations

1 Departamento de Clínica e Cirurgia Veterinária, Centro de Ciências Agrárias, Universidade Federal do Piauí, Teresina, PI, Brazil

2 Laboratório de Soroepidemiologia e Imunobiologia, Instituto de Medicina Tropical de São Paulo, Universidade de São Paulo, Av. Dr. Enéas de Carvalho Aguiar, 470, 05403-000 - São Paulo, SP, Brazil

3 Departamento de Patologia, Faculdade de Medicina Veterinária e Zootecnia, Universidade de São Paulo, Av. Prof. Dr. Orlando Marques de Paiva, 87, São Paulo, SP, Brazil

4 Departamento de Medicina Preventiva, Faculdade de Medicina, Universidade de São Paulo, SP, Brazil

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2010, 10:112  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-10-112

Published: 11 May 2010



Immune complex deposition is the accepted mechanism of pathogenesis of VL glomerulopathy however other immune elements may participate. Further in the present study, no difference was seen between immunoglobulin and C3b deposit intensity in glomeruli between infected and non-infected dogs thus T cells, adhesion molecules and parameters of proliferation and apoptosis were analysed in dogs with naturally acquired VL from an endemic area. The dog is the most important domestic reservoir of the protozoa Leishmania (L.) chagasi that causes visceral leishmaniasis (VL). The similarity of VL manifestation in humans and dogs renders the study of canine VL nephropathy of interest with regard to human pathology.


From 55 dogs with VL and 8 control non-infected dogs from an endemic area, kidney samples were analyzed by immunohistochemistry for immunoglobulin and C3b deposits, staining for CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, ICAM-1, P-selectin and quantified using morphometry. Besides proliferation marker Ki-67, apoptosis markers M30 and TUNEL staining, and related cytokines TNF-α, IL-1α were searched and quantified.


We observed similar IgG, IgM and IgA and C3b deposit intensity in dogs with VL and non-infected control dogs. However we detected the Leishmania antigen in cells in glomeruli in 54, CD4+ T cells in the glomeruli of 44, and CD8+ T cells in 17 of a total of 55 dogs with VL. Leishmania antigen was absent and T cells were absent/scarse in eight non-infected control dogs. CD 4+ T cells predominate in proliferative patterns of glomerulonephritis, however the presence of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells were not different in intensity in different patterns of glomerulonephritis. The expression of ICAM-1 and P-selectin was significantly greater in the glomeruli of infected dogs than in control dogs. In all patterns of glomerulonephritis the expression of ICAM-1 ranged from minimum to moderately severe and P-selectin from absent to severe. In the control animals the expression of these molecules ranged from absent to medium intensity. It was not observed any correlation between severity of the disease and these markers. There was a correlation between the number of Leishmania antigen positive cells and CD4+ T cells, and between the number of CD4+ T cells and CD8+ T cells. In dogs presenting different histopathological patterns of glomerulonephritis, parameters of proliferation and apoptosis were studied. Ki-67, a proliferative marker, was not detected locally, but fewer apoptotic cells and lower TNF-α expression were seen in infected animals than in non-infected controls.


Immunopathogenic mechanisms of VL glomerulonephritis are complex and data in the present study suggest no clear participation of immunoglobulin and C3b deposits in these dogs but the possible migration of CD4+ T cells into the glomeruli, participation of adhesion molecules, and diminished apoptosis of cells contributing to determine the proliferative pattern of glomerulonephritis in VL.