Journal of neuroinflammation

Priming astrocytes with TNF enhances their susceptibility to Trypanosoma cruzi infection and creates a self-sustaining inflammatory milieu.

PMID 28877735


In conditions of immunosuppression, the central nervous sty 5ystem (CNS) is the main target tissue for the reactivation of infection by Trypanosoma cruzi, the causative agent of Chagas disease. In experimental T. cruzi infection, interferon gamma (IFNγ) Primary astrocyte cultures of neonatal C57BL/6 and C3H/He mice and the human U-87 MG astrocyte lineage were infected with the Colombian T. cruzi strain. Cytokine production, particularly TNF, and TNF receptor 1 (TNFR1/p55) expression were analyzed. Recombinant cytokines (rIFNγ and rTNF), the anti-TNF antibody infliximab, and the TNFR1 modulator pentoxifylline were used to assess the in vitro effects of TNF on astrocyte susceptibility to T. cruzi infection. To investigate the role of TNF on CNS colonization by T. cruzi, infected mice were submitted to anti-TNF therapy. rTNF priming of mouse and human astrocytes enhanced parasite/astrocyte interaction (i.e., the percentage of astrocytes invaded by trypomastigote parasites and the number of intracellular parasite forms/astrocyte). Furthermore, T. cruzi infection drove astrocytes to a pro-inflammatory profile with TNF and interleukin-6 production, which was amplified by rTNF treatment. Adding rTNF prior to infection fueled parasite growth and trypomastigote egression, in parallel with increased TNFR1 expression. Importantly, pentoxifylline inhibited the TNF-induced increase in astrocyte susceptibility to T. cruzi invasion. In T. cruzi-infected mice, anti-TNF therapy reduced the number of amastigote nests in the brain. Our data implicate TNF as a promoter of T. cruzi invasion of mouse and human astrocytes. Moreover, the TNF-enriched inflammatory milieu and enhanced TNFR1 expression may favor TNF signaling, astrocyte colonization by T. cruzi and egression of trypomastigotes. Therefore, in T. cruzi infection, a self-sustaining TNF-induced inflammatory circuit may perpetuate the parasite cycle in the CNS and ultimately promote cytokine-driven behavioral alterations.