The liver stage of the Plasmodium
life cycle features sporozoite traversal of the liver sinusoidal barrier through Kupffer cells (KCs) followed by invasion of hepatocytes. Little is known about the interaction of Plasmodium
sporozoites with KCs, the liver-resident macrophages. Previous reports suggest KCs do not mount a pro-inflammatory response and undergo cell death following this interaction. Our work explores this interaction using primary rat KCs (PRKCs) and Plasmodium berghei
sporozoites. We analyzed PRKC culture supernatants for markers of an immunological response through cytokine arrays. Additionally, cell wounding and death were assessed by monitoring lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) levels in these supernatants and by live/dead cell imaging. We found that PRKCs mount an immunological response to P. berghei
sporozoites by releasing a diverse set of both pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines, including IFNγ, IL-12p70, Mip-3α, IL-2, RANTES, IL-1α, IL-4, IL-5, IL-13, EPO, VEGF, IL-7, and IL-17α. We also observed no difference in LDH level or live/dead staining upon sporozoite exposure, suggesting that the KCs are not deeply wounded or dying. Overall, our data suggest that sporozoites may be actively modulating the KC’s reaction to their presence and altering the way the innate immune system is triggered by KCs.
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