Influence of apoptosis on the cutaneous and peripheral lymph node inflammatory response in dogs with visceral leishmaniasis
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In canine visceral leishmaniasis (CVL), the abnormalities most commonly observed in clinical examination on the animals are lymphadenomegaly and skin lesions. Dogs are the main domestic reservoir for the protozoon Leishmania (L.) chagasi and the skin is the main site of contamination by the vector insect. Some protozoa use apoptosis as an immunological escape mechanism. The aim of this study was to correlate the presence of apoptosis with the parasite load and with the inflammatory response in the skin and lymph nodes of dogs naturally infected with Leishmania (L.) chagasi. Thirty-three dogs from the municipality of Araçatuba (São Paulo, Brazil) were used, an endemic area for CVL. Muzzle, ear and abdominal skin and the popliteal, subscapular, iliac and mesenteric lymph nodes of symptomatic (S), oligosymptomatic (O) and asymptomatic (A) dogs were analyzed histologically. The parasite load and percentage apoptosis were evaluated using an immunohistochemical technique. Microscopically, the lymph nodes presented chronic lymphadenitis and the skin presented plasmacytic infiltrate and granulomatous foci in the superficial dermis, especially in the ear and muzzle regions. The inflammation was most severe in group S. The parasite load and apoptotic cell density were also greatest in this group. The cause of the lymphoid atrophy in these dogs was correlated with T lymphocyte apoptosis, thus leaving the dogs more susceptible to CVL. The peripheral lymph nodes presented the greatest inflammatory response. Independent of the clinical picture, the predominant inflammatory response was granulomatous and plasmacytic, both in the skin and in the peripheral lymph nodes. The ear skin presented the greatest intensity of inflammation and parasite load, followed by the muzzle skin, in group S. The ear skin area presented a non-significant difference in cell profile, with predominance of macrophages, and a significant difference from group A to groups O and S. It was seen that in these areas, there were high densities of parasites and cells undergoing apoptosis, in group S. The association between apoptosis and parasite load was not significant in the lymph nodes, but in the muzzle regions and at the ear tips, a positive correlation was seen between the parasite load and the density of cells undergoing apoptosis. The dogs in group S had the highest parasite load and the greatest number of apoptotic cells, thus suggesting that the parasite had an immune evasion mechanism, which could be proven statistically in the skin. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.
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