Infection and immunity

Fasciola hepatica fatty acid binding protein induces the alternative activation of human macrophages.

PMID 25225247


The liver fluke Fasciola hepatica is a highly evolved parasite that uses sophisticated mechanisms to evade the host immune response. The immunosuppressive capabilities of the parasite have been associated with antigens secreted through the parasite's tegument, called excretory-secretory products (ESPs). Proteomic studies have identified the fatty acid binding protein (FABP) as one of molecules present in the parasite ESPs. Although FABP has been investigated for potential use in the development of vaccines against fascioliasis, its direct interaction with cells of immune system has not been studied. In this study, FABP was purified in native form from soluble extracts of F. hepatica adult flukes using a combination of molecular sieving chromatography and preparative isoelectric focusing. The immunological effect of the purified protein, termed Fh12, was assayed in vitro using monocyte-derived macrophages (MDM) obtained from healthy human donors. Results from the assay indicate that Fh12 produced a significantly increased arginase expression and activity and induced the expression of chitinase-3-like protein (CHI3L1). The assay also showed that Fh12 downregulated the production of nitric oxide (NO) and the expression of nitric oxide synthase (NOS2). This indicates that Fh12 induced the production of alternatively activated macrophages (AAMϕ). The results also demonstrated the ability of Fh12 to downregulate the secretion of the proinflammatory and inflammatory cytokines tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), interleukin-12 (IL-12), and IL-1βB, even after stimulation with lipopolysaccharide (LPS), as well as its ability to stimulate the overexpression of IL-10. These results suggest a potent anti-inflammatory role for Fh12, which could occur via targeting of Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4).