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The therapeutic potential of immune cross-talk in leishmaniasis.
Clinical Microbiology and Infection
Veterans of infection, Leishmania parasites have been plaguing mammals for centuries, causing a morbidity toll second only to that of malaria as the most devastating protozoan parasitic disease in the world. Cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) is, by far, the most prevalent form of the disease, with symptoms ranging from a single self-healing lesion to chronic metastatic leishmaniasis (ML). In an increasingly immunocompromised population, complicated CL is becoming a more likely outcome, characterized by severely inflamed, destructive lesions that are often refractory to current treatment. This is perhaps because our ageing arsenal of variably effective antileishmanial drugs may be directly or indirectly immunomodulatory and may thus have variable effects in each type and stage of CL. Indeed, widely differing immune biases are created by the various species of Leishmania, and these immunological watersheds are further shifted by extrinsic disturbances in immune homeostasis. For example, we recently showed that a naturally occurring RNA virus (Leishmania RNA virus (LRV)) within some Leishmania parasites creates hyperinflammatory cross-talk, which can predispose to ML: a case of immunological misfire that may require a different approach to immunotherapy, whereby treatments are tailored to underlying immune biases. Understanding the intersecting immune pathways of leishmaniasis and its co-infections will enable us to identify new drug targets, and thereby design therapeutic strategies that work by untangling the immunological cross-wires of pathogenic cross-talk.
HIV co-infection, hyperpathogenesis, immune cross-talk, immunomodulatory antileishmanial agents, immunophenotyping, Leishmania RNA virus, Leishmania Viannia, leishmaniasis, metastatic leishmaniasis, nested co-infection
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