Cell Biology and Immunology of Leishmaniasis
The spectrum of diseases that collectively constitute leishmaniasis ranges from simple cutaneous lesions that heal spontaneously to mucocutaneous conditions with metastatic spread or visceral involvement in which spontaneous recovery is rare. In man, these forms of disease can be loosely assigned to particular species or subspecies of Leishmania but correlations are not absolute suggesting that the outcome of the infection depends on the immune response of the host as much as it does on the nature of the invading organism. This concept is well supported by experimental evidence and it is clear that in mice three species, Leishmania donovani, L. major and L. mexicana mexicana, cause infections that are determined by the genotype of the host. Research pioneered by Jenefer Blackwell, and reported upon in these proceedings, has actually shown that the outcome of the infections caused by all three species is determined by genes occurring at or near the murine H-11 locus (Roberts, Kaye, Milon and Blackwell). At another level, L. major infections self cure in CEA or C3H mice but are fatal and visceralize in BALB/C mice. The importance of these findings is that they show that susceptibility or resistance to leishmaniasis can be controlled by the host and, provided that the immune system can be directed against the invader, that vaccination against this disease is possible.
KeywordsSurface Molecule Spontaneous Recovery Major Infection Visceral Involvement Cell Mediate Response
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