Encephalitozoon cuniculi is an obligate, intracellular spore-forming, parasitic organism of mammals that causes encephalitozoonosis, an opportunistic zoonosis, especially in immunocompromised individuals (AIDS patients, pregnant women and the elderly). Scientific data about detailed neuropathology of the disease in the rabbit - the main host of encephalitozoonosis - including the involvement of inflammatory mediators in the brain, is scarce. Additionally, limited knowledge is available about the immune response against this pathogen. The aims of the present research project are to characterize the phenotype of the intrathecal brain inflammatory response in naturally occurring cases of encephalitozoonosis in rabbits in order to gain insight into its role in the elimination of E. cuniculi. This research project will also investigate the expression of pro (IL-1², IL-6, IL12, IL,17, IL-22, IL-23), and anti-inflammatory (TGF-², IL-4, IL-5, IL-10) cytokines; mettaloproteases and toll-like receptors in the brain of experimentally infected C57BL/6 mice. The methodology will include RT-PCR, semi-quantitative histopathologic analysis, immunohistochemistry and zimography. Four research centers (three Brazilians Universities and an Italian University) will be involved in the research project. The results could help to understand the mechanisms of inflammation in the brain and may also help to elucidate the mechanism(s) related to the neuroinvasion of E. cuniculi by crossing the blood-brain barrier.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: