Microbes and infection

Haeme oxygenase activity protects the host against excessive cardiac inflammation during experimental Trypanosoma cruzi infection.

PMID 24140555


The infection with Trypanosoma cruzi induces a robust cardiac inflammation that plays a pathogenic role in the development of Chagas heart disease. In this study, we aimed at investigating the effects of Haem Oxygenase (HO) during experimental infection by T. cruzi in BALB/c and C57BL/6 mice. HO has recently emerged as a key factor modulating the immune response in diverse models of inflammatory diseases. In mice with two different genetic backgrounds, the pharmacologic inhibition of HO activity with zinc-protoporphyrin IX (ZnPPIX) induced enhanced myocarditis and reduced parasitaemia, which was accompanied by an amplified production of nitric oxide and increased influx of CD4(+), CD8(+) and IFN-γ(+) cells to the myocardium in comparison with the control group. Conversely, treatment with haemin (an activator of HO) lead to a decreased number of intracardiac CD4(+) (but not CD8(+)) cells compared to the control group. The mechanism involved in these observations is a modulation of the induction of regulatory T cells, because the stimulation or inhibition of HO was parallelled by an enhanced or reduced frequency of regulatory T cells, respectively. Hence, HO may be involved in the regulation of heart tissue inflammation and could be a potential target in conceiving future therapeutic approaches for Chagas disease.