The skin has an important role in infection by Leishmania chagasi. Apoptosis modulates the inflammatory response acting distinctively either on the progression or regression of the lesions. The parasites interact with multiple regulatory systems inducing apoptosis in host cells, during cell invasion, stabilization and multiplication of pathogens. In this context, the aim of this study was to evaluate cell death within the inflammatory infiltrates, and to correlate these results with parasite load and clinical features of dogs naturally infected with L. chagasi. Fragments of skin pinnas (8 symptomatic + 8 asymptomatic + 6 negative controls) were used to characterize and measure the inflammatory response, parasite load and apoptosis. Diagnosis of canine leishmaniasis was confirmed by the detection of anti-Leishmania antibodies by IFA and ELISA in serum, direct visualization of the parasite and culture in spleen, liver, pinna, bone marrow and lymph nodes, and PCR (pinna). Histomorphometry was performed with images obtained from 20 representative histological fields in a light microscope. Ultra-thin sections were mounted over a 300 mesh grids, contrasted with 2% uranyl acetate and lead citrate and examined under a Transmission Electronic Microscopy. Amastigotes were only found in the skin of symptomatic animals (31.94 ± 18.81). The number of foci and cellularity of the inflammatory infiltrates in symptomatic dogs were higher than in other groups and in asymptomatics were higher than in controls (p<0.05; Tukey). The average area, perimeter and extreme diameters of the inflammatory infiltrates obtained in symptomatic dogs were higher than in controls (p<0.05; Tukey). The apoptotic index was higher in symptomatic than in other groups and there was no difference between asymptomatics and controls (p<0.05; Tukey). Ultrastructurally, apoptotic cells were shrunken, with condensed nuclear chromatin and cytoplasm. Condensed nuclei were frequently fragmented. Internucleosomal DNA fragmentation occurred only in symptomatic cases. Amastigotes were observed within neutrophils and macrophages. Apoptosis is directly related to parasite load, intensity of inflammatory response and clinical manifestations in L. chagasi naturally infected dogs. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.
Verçosa, B. L. A., Melo, M. N., Puerto, H. L. D., Mendonça, I. L., & Vasconcelos, A. C. (2012). Apoptosis, inflammatory response and parasite load in skin of Leishmania (Leishmania) chagasi naturally infected dogs: A histomorphometric analysis. Veterinary Parasitology, 189(2–4), 162–170. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.vetpar.2012.04.035