Leishmaniasis is a protozoan infection caused by parasites of the genus Leishmania. These pathogens have adapted to the parasitism of mononuclear phagocytic cells of vertebrate hosts, especially the macrophages, in which the parasite is able to reproduce inside the parasitophorous vacuole. Several studies have shown that during their intracellular parasitic stage, amastigotes of Leishmania utilize appropriate metabolic strategies and subvert the mechanisms of defense and nutrition of the host cell. Preliminary results obtained by our group show that the level of fatty acid-binding protein 4 (FABP4) of macrophages is increased after infection with Leishmania (L.) amazonensis. Considering our preliminary data, it is reasonable to assume that this protein plays an important role in the establishment and maintenance of amastigotes in the parasitophorous vacuole. Using in vitro infections we will evaluate the abundance and localization of FABP4 in macrophages exposed to Leishmania species commonly found in Brazil: L. (V.) braziliensis , L. (L.) infantum and L. (L.) amazonensis. Further studies will be conducted to assess the activity of a specific inhibitor of FABP4 in the establishment of parasitophorous vacuoles harboring Leishmania in order to improve our knowledge concerning the cellular aspects of Leishmania infection.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: