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Lysophosphatidylcholine: A Novel Modulator of Trypanosoma cruzi Transmission

DOI: 10.1155/2012/625838

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Lysophosphatidylcholine is a bioactive lipid that regulates a large number of cellular processes and is especially present during the deposition and infiltration of inflammatory cells and deposition of atheromatous plaque. Such molecule is also present in saliva and feces of the hematophagous organism Rhodnius prolixus, a triatominae bug vector of Chagas disease. We have recently demonstrated that LPC is a modulator of Trypanosoma cruzi transmission. It acts as a powerful chemoattractant for inflammatory cells at the site of the insect bite, which will provide a concentrated population of cells available for parasite infection. Also, LPC increases macrophage intracellular calcium concentrations that ultimately enhance parasite invasion. Finally, LPC inhibits NO production by macrophages stimulated by live T. cruzi, and thus interferes with the immune system of the vertebrate host. In the present paper, we discuss the main signaling mechanisms that are likely used by such molecule and their eventual use as targets to block parasite transmission and the pathogenesis of Chagas disease. 1. Immune Response to Trypanosoma cruzi Infection in the Vertebrate Host T. cruzi infects the vertebrate host through bite wounds produced in skin by a feeding bug or through the interaction of the parasite with conjunctival mucosa. Such interaction sometimes produces visible signs called Roma?a’s sign or chagoma inoculation. The histology of this initial site of infection is defined by an elevated number of mononuclear cells [1]. This first sign of infection suggests that T. cruzi can stimulate skin cells to produce mediators that trigger a local inflammatory response. Despite controversies about the mechanism of the pathogenesis of Chagas disease [2–5], until recently, some authors believed that the disease was limited to an acute phase, followed by a chronic phase that was considered an autoimmune disease, where the parasites would be physically linked to sites of inflammation in the heart and esophagus [6–8]. However, nowadays, the disease is considered multifactorial, with multiple and continuous interactions between pathogen and host [9]. After the incubation period of 2 to 3 weeks, infection with T. cruzi is manifested by the presence of a large number of parasites in the blood and tissues. Acute infection is accompanied by an excessive activation of the immune system that includes the production of high levels of cytokines, intense activation of T and B cells, lymphadenopathy, splenomegaly, and intense inflammation associated with tissue infection niches. The acute


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