Virulent protozoans named Leishmania in tropical and subtropical areas produce devastating diseases by exploiting host immune responses. Amastigotes of Leishmania amazonensis stimulate macrophages to express CD200, an immunomodulatory ligand, which binds to its cognate receptor (CD200R) and inhibits the inducible nitric oxide synthase and nitric oxide (iNOS/NO) signaling pathways, thereby promoting intracellular survival. However, the mechanisms underlying CD200 induction in macrophages remain largely unknown. Here, we show that phagocytosis-mediated internalization of L. amazonensis amastigotes following activation of endosomal TLR9/MyD88/TRIF signaling is critical for inducing CD200 in infected macrophages. We also demonstrate that Leishmania microvesicles containing DNA fragments activate TLR9-dependent CD200 expression, which inhibits the iNOS/NO pathway and modulates the course of L. amazonensis infection in vivo. These findings demonstrate that Leishmania exploits TLR-signaling pathways not only to inhibit macrophage microbicidal function, but also to evade host systemic immune responses, which has many implications in the severity of the disease.


Ismael P. Sauter, Katerine G. Madrid, Josiane B. de Assis, Anderson Sá-Nunes, Ana C. Torrecilhas, Daniela I. Staquicini, Renata Pasqualini, Wadih Arap, Mauro Cortez


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