Proteinases as virulence factors in Leishmania spp. infection in mammals
Laboratório de Biologia Molecular e Doenças Endêmicas, IOC, Fiocruz, Avenida Brasil, 4365 Manguinhos Pavilhão Leônidas Deane – sala 209, CEP: 21040-900, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brasil
Parasites & Vectors 2012, 5:160 doi:10.1186/1756-3305-5-160Published: 7 August 2012
Leishmania parasites cause human tegumentary and visceral infections that are commonly referred to as leishmaniasis. Despite the high incidence and prevalence of cases, leishmaniasis has been a neglected disease because it mainly affects developing countries. The data obtained from the analysis of patients’ biological samples and from assays with animal models confirm the involvement of an array of the parasite’s components in its survival inside the mammalian host. These components are classified as virulence factors. In this review, we focus on studies that have explored the role of proteinases as virulence factors that promote parasite survival and immune modulation in the mammalian host. Additionally, the direct involvement of proteinases from the host in lesion evolution is analyzed. The gathered data shows that both parasite and host proteinases are involved in the clinical manifestation of leishmaniasis. It is interesting to note that although the majority of the classes of proteinases are present in Leishmania spp., only cysteine-proteinases, metalloproteinases and, to a lesser scale, serine-proteinases have been adequately studied. Members from these classes have been implicated in tissue invasion, survival in macrophages and immune modulation by parasites. This review reinforces the importance of the parasite proteinases, which are interesting candidates for new chemo or immunotherapies, in the clinical manifestations of leishmaniasis.