Abstract in English:One hundred years since the discovery of Chagas disease associated with Trypanosoma cruzi infection, growing attention has focused on understanding the evolution in parasite-human host interaction. This interest has featured studies and results from paleoparasitology, not only the description of lesions in mummified bodies, but also the recovery of genetic material from the parasite and the possibility of analyzing such material over time. The present study reviews the evidence of Chagas disease in organic remains excavated from archeological sites and discusses two findings in greater detail, both with lesions suggestive of chagasic megacolon and confirmed by molecular biology techniques. One of these sites is located in the United States, on the border between Texas and Mexico and the other in state of Minas Gerais, in the Brazilian cerrado (savannah). Dated prior to contact with Europeans, these results confirm that Chagas disease affected prehistoric human groups in other regions outside the Andean altiplanos and other transmission areas on the Pacific Coast, previously considered the origin of T. cruzi infection in the human host.
Abstract in English:Chagas disease, named after Carlos Chagas, who first described it in 1909, exists only on the American Continent. It is caused by a parasite, Trypanosoma cruzi, which is transmitted to humans by blood-sucking triatomine bugs and via blood transfusion. Chagas disease has two successive phases: acute and chronic. The acute phase lasts six-eight weeks. Several years after entering the chronic phase, 20-35% of infected individuals, depending on the geographical area, will develop irreversible lesions of the autonomous nervous system in the heart, oesophagus and colon, and of the peripheral nervous system. Data on the prevalence and distribution of Chagas disease improved in quality during the 1980s as a result of the demographically representative cross-sectional studies in countries where accurate information was not previously available. A group of experts met in Brasilia in 1979 and devised standard protocols to carry out countrywide prevalence studies on human T. cruzi infection and triatomine house infestation. Thanks to a coordinated multi-country programme in the Southern Cone countries, the transmission of Chagas disease by vectors and via blood transfusion was interrupted in Uruguay in 1997, in Chile in 1999 and in Brazil in 2006; thus, the incidence of new infections by T. cruzi across the South American continent has decreased by 70%. Similar multi-country initiatives have been launched in the Andean countries and in Central America and rapid progress has been reported towards the goal of interrupting the transmission of Chagas disease, as requested by a 1998 Resolution of the World Health Assembly. The cost-benefit analysis of investment in the vector control programme in Brazil indicates that there are savings of US$17 in medical care and disabilities for each dollar spent on prevention, showing that the programme is a health investment with very high return. Many well-known research institutions in Latin America were key elements of a worldwide network of laboratories that carried out basic and applied research supporting the planning and evaluation of national Chagas disease control programmes. The present article reviews the current epidemiological trends for Chagas disease in Latin America and the future challenges in terms of epidemiology, surveillance and health policy.
Abstract in English:Chagas disease originated millions of years ago as an enzootic infection of wild animals and began to be transmitted to humans as an anthropozoonosis when man invaded wild ecotopes. While evidence of human infection has been found in mummies up to 9,000 years old, endemic Chagas disease became established as a zoonosis only in the last 200-300 years, as triatomines adapted to domestic environments. It is estimated that 15-16 million people are infected with Trypanosoma cruzi in Latin America, and 75-90 million are exposed to infection. Control of Chagas disease must be undertaken by interrupting its transmission by vectors and blood transfusions, improving housing and areas surrounding dwellings, providing sanitation education for exposed populations and treating acute and recently infected chronic cases. These measures should be complemented by surveillance and primary, secondary and tertiary care.
Abstract in English:One hundred years after its discovery by Carlos Chagas, American trypanosomiasis, or Chagas disease, remains an epidemiologic challenge. Neither a vaccine nor an ideal specific treatment is available for most chronic cases. Therefore, the current strategy for countering Chagas disease consists of preventive actions against the vector and transfusion-transmitted disease. Here, the present challenges, including congenital and oral transmission of Trypanosoma cruzi infections, as well as the future potential for Chagas disease elimination are discussed in light of the current epidemiological picture. Finally, a list of challenging open questions is presented about Chagas disease control, patient management, programme planning and priority definitions faced by researchers and politicians.
Abstract in English:Despite the relevant achievements in the control of the main Chagas disease vectors Triatoma infestans and Rhodnius prolixus, several factors still promote the risk of infection. The disease is a real threat to the poor rural regions of several countries in Latin America. The current situation in Brazil requires renewed attention due to its high diversity of triatomine species and to the rapid and drastic environmental changes that are occurring. Using the biology, behaviour and diversity of triatomines as a basis for new strategies for monitoring and controlling the vectorial transmission are discussed here. The importance of ongoing long-term monitoring activities for house infestations by T. infestans, Triatoma brasiliensis, Panstrongylus megistus, Triatoma rubrovaria and R. prolixus is also stressed, as well as understanding the invasion by sylvatic species. Moreover, the insecticide resistance is analysed. Strong efforts to sustain and improve surveillance procedures are crucial, especially when the vectorial transmission is considered interrupted in many endemic areas.
Abstract in English:Sustainability has become a focal point of the international agenda. At the heart of its range of distribution in the Gran Chaco Region, the elimination of Triatoma infestans has failed, even in areas subject to intensive professional vector control efforts. Chagas disease control programs traditionally have been composed of two divorced entities: a vector control program in charge of routine field operations (bug detection and insecticide spraying) and a disease control program in charge of screening blood donors, diagnosis, etiologic treatment and providing medical care to chronic patients. The challenge of sustainable suppression of bug infestation and Trypanosoma cruzi transmission can be met through integrated disease management, in which vector control is combined with active case detection and treatment to increase impact, cost-effectiveness and public acceptance in resource-limited settings. Multi-stakeholder involvement may add sustainability and resilience to the surveillance system. Chagas vector control and disease management must remain a regional effort within the frame of sustainable development rather than being viewed exclusively as a matter of health pertinent to the health sector. Sustained and continuous coordination between governments, agencies, control programs, academia and the affected communities is critical.
Abstract in English:The current persistence of Triatoma infestans, and therefore of Chagas disease transmission, in the Andean valleys of Bolivia and the Gran Chaco (precisely where wild populations of the vector are widespread), indicates a possible relationship between these two occurrences. This paper provides an overview of the current knowledge regarding wild T. infestans in Bolivia. The different morphs of the wild vector, their known distributions and some traits of their biology and ecology are presented. Particularly interesting is the considerable behavioural and chromatic plasticity that is displayed by wild T. infestans. According to the biogeographic region, different morphs of the vector occur in rupicolous habitats (common form and Mataral morph in Andean wild T. infestans) or arboreal ones ("dark morph" populations from the Chaco). The high genetic variability found at the microgeographical scale in Andean wild T. infestans favours the hypothesis that the Andes were the centre of origin and dispersal of T. infestans throughout South America. The relevant question regarding the origin of domestic populations is also addressed. Finally, current considerations of the epidemiological significance of wild T. infestans are discussed in the context of recent discoveries. Even if several observations support the epidemiological risk represented by wild T. infestans, the climatic and environmental conditions of their distribution areas would not favour the continued flow of triatomines between sylvatic refuges and domestic environments.
Abstract in English:Living in close association with a vertebrate host and feeding on its blood requires different types of adaptations, including behavioural adjustements. Triatomines exhibit particular traits associated with the exploitation of their habitat and food sources and these traits have been the subject of intense analysis. Many aspects of triatomine behaviour have been relatively well characterised and some attempts to exploit the behaviours have been undertaken. Baited traps based on host-associated cues, artificial refuges and light-traps are some of the tools used. Here we discuss how our knowledge of the biology of Chagas disease vectors may help us sample and detect these insects and even increase the efficiency of control measures.
Abstract in English:Over the last 10 years, Uruguay, Chile and Brazil have been certified as being free from disease transmission by Triatoma infestans, the main domiciliated vector for Chagas disease in the Southern Cone countries. This demonstrates that programmes addressing the vector for the disease's transmission are effective. These programmes have resulted in a dramatic decrease in the incidence of Chagas disease in Latin America. Guatemala was certified a few months ago as being free from disease transmission by Rhodnius prolixus, the main domiciliated vector for Chagas disease in Central American countries. However, the main concern for different countries' current control programmes is the continuity and sustainability of future vector control actions. The prevalence and incidence figures for individuals infected by Trypanosoma cruzi in Mexico and Andean and Central American countries highlights the need for broadened strategies in the struggle against the disease and its vectors. A number of triatomine insects are parasite vectors, each with a different life history. Therefore, it is important that new vector control strategies be proposed, keeping in mind that some species are found in peridomiciliary areas and wild ecotopes. The only viable control strategy is to reduce human interactions with vector insects so that the re-infestation and re-colonisation of human habitats will not take place.
Abstract in English:Since the discovery of Trypanosoma cruzi and the brilliant description of the then-referred to "new tripanosomiasis" by Carlos Chagas 100 years ago, a great deal of scientific effort and curiosity has been devoted to understanding how this parasite invades and colonises mammalian host cells. This is a key step in the survival of the parasite within the vertebrate host, and although much has been learned over this century, differences in strains or isolates used by different laboratories may have led to conclusions that are not as universal as originally interpreted. Molecular genotyping of the CL-Brener clone confirmed a genetic heterogeneity in the parasite that had been detected previously by other techniques, including zymodeme or schizodeme (kDNA) analysis. T. cruzi can be grouped into at least two major phylogenetic lineages: T. cruzi I, mostly associated with the sylvatic cycle and T. cruzi II, linked to human disease; however, a third lineage, T. cruziIII, has also been proposed. Hybrid isolates, such as the CL-Brener clone, which was chosen for sequencing the genome of the parasite (Elias et al. 2005, El Sayed et al. 2005a), have also been identified. The parasite must be able to invade cells in the mammalian host, and many studies have implicated the flagellated trypomastigotes as the main actor in this process. Several surface components of parasites and some of the host cell receptors with which they interact have been described. Herein, we have attempted to identify milestones in the history of understanding T. cruzi- host cell interactions. Different infective forms of T. cruzi have displayed unexpected requirements for the parasite to attach to the host cell, enter it, and translocate between the parasitophorous vacuole to its final cytoplasmic destination. It is noteworthy that some of the mechanisms originally proposed to be broad in function turned out not to be universal, and multiple interactions involving different repertoires of molecules seem to act in concert to give rise to a rather complex interplay of signalling cascades involving both parasite and cellular components.
Abstract in English:Since the initial description of Trypanosoma cruzi by Carlos Chagas in 1909, several research groups have used different microscopic techniques to obtain detailed information about the various developmental stages found in the life cycle of this intracellular parasite. This review describes the present knowledge on the organization of the most important structures and organelles found in the protozoan, such as the cell surface, flagellum, cytoskeleton, kinetoplast-mitochondrion complex, glycosome, acidocalcisome, contractile vacuole, lipid inclusions, the secretory pathway, endocytic pathway and the nucleus.
Abstract in English:Frequent reports on outbreaks of acute Chagas' disease by ingestion of food contaminated with parasites from triatomine insects illustrate the importance of this mode of transmission. Studies on oral Trypanosoma cruzi infection in mice have indicated that metacyclic trypomastigotes invade the gastric mucosal epithelium. A key molecule in this process is gp82, a stage-specific surface glycoprotein that binds to both gastric mucin and to target epithelial cells. By triggering Ca2+ signalling, gp82 promotes parasite internalisation. Gp82 is relatively resistant to peptic digestion at acidic pH, thus preserving the properties critical for oral infection. The infection process is also influenced by gp90, a metacyclic stage-specific molecule that negatively regulates the invasion process. T. cruzi strains expressing high gp90 levels invade cells poorly in vitro. However, their infectivity by oral route varies considerably due to varying susceptibilities of different gp90 isoforms to peptic digestion. Parasites expressing pepsin-susceptible gp90 become highly invasive against target cells upon contact with gastric juice. Such is the case of a T. cruzi isolate from an acute case of orally acquired Chagas' disease; the gp90 from this strain is extensively degraded upon short period of parasite permanence in the gastric milieu. If such an exacerbation of infectivity occurs in humans, it may be responsible for the severity of Chagas' disease reported in outbreaks of oral infection.
Abstract in English:Although the genome of Trypanosoma cruzi has been completely sequenced, little is known about its population structure and evolution. Since 1999, two major evolutionary lineages presenting distinct epidemiological characteristics have been recognised: T. cruzi I and T. cruzi II. We describe new and important aspects of the population structure of the parasite, and unequivocally characterise a third ancestral lineage that we propose to name T. cruzi III. Through a careful analysis of haplotypes (blocks of genes that are stably transmitted from generation to generation of the parasite), we inferred at least two hybridisation events between the parental lineages T. cruzi II and T. cruzi III. The strain CL Brener, whose genome was sequenced, is one such hybrid. Based on these results, we propose a simple evolutionary model based on three ancestral genomes, T. cruzi I, T. cruzi II and T. cruzi III. At least two hybridisation events produced evolutionarily viable progeny, and T. cruzi III was the cytoplasmic donor for the resulting offspring (as identified by the mitochondrial clade of the hybrid strains) in both events. This model should be useful to inform evolutionary and pathogenetic hypotheses regarding T. cruzi.
Abstract in English:In the acute phase and in the chronic forms of Chagas disease, the etiological diagnosis may be performed by detection of the parasite using direct or indirect parasitological methods and by the presence of antibodies in the serum by way of serological tests. Several techniques are easily available, ranging from the simplest wet smear preparation to immuno-enzymatic assays with recombinant antigens that will meet most diagnostic needs. Other tests under evaluation include a molecular test using polymerase chain reaction, which has shown promising results and may be used as a confirmatory test both in the acute and chronic phases of the disease. Better rapid tests are needed for diagnosis, some of which are already under evaluation. Additionally, there is a need for tools that can identify patients cured shortly after specific treatment. Other needs include a marker for prognosis and early diagnosis of congenital transmission.
Abstract in English:One major goal of research on Chagas disease is the development of effective chemotherapy to eliminate the infection from individuals who have not yet developed cardiac and/or digestive disease manifestations. Cure evaluation is the more complex aspect of its treatment, often leading to diverse and controversial results. The absence of reliable methods or a diagnostic gold standard to assess etiologic treatment efficacy still constitutes a major challenge. In an effort to develop more sensitive tools, polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based assays were introduced to detect low amounts of Trypanosoma cruzi DNA in blood samples from chagasic patients, thus improving the diagnosis and follow-up evaluation after chemotherapy. In this article, I review the main problems concerning drug efficacy and criteria used for cure estimation in treated chagasic patients, and the work conducted by different groups on developing PCR methodologies to monitor treatment outcome of congenital infections as well as recent and late chronic T. cruzi infections.
Abstract in English:A new multiplex assay platform was evaluated to detect Trypanosoma cruzi infection using the recombinant antigens CRA, FRA, CRAFRA fusion and parasite lysate. The antigens presented different sensitivity and specificity in a singleplex test when compared to a serial dilution of two pools comprising 10 positive serum samples and one pool of 10 negative samples. The recombinant protein CRA presented lower sensitivity (55%) in contrast to the 100% specificity and sensitivity of FRA, CRAFRA and T. cruzi lysate. These antigens also showed good results in a duplex test and the duplex test with CRAFRA/T. cruzi lysate showed better performance with 100% specificity and sensitivity, as well as a lower cut-off value in comparison to the other duplex test, FRA/T. cruzi lysate. Hence, when the antigens were used in duplex format, both tests showed decreased cut-off values and no interference between different bead sets, resulting in increasing sensitivity and specificity. The results of these multiplex tests show that they could be an alternative to singleplex detection for Chagas disease, and also indicate the necessity of using multiplex diagnostic tools to increase the sensitivity and specificity for diagnostic tests. Emerging data from the T. cruzi genome and from its ORFeome project will also allow the identification of new antigens for this disease detection application.
Abstract in English:In previous work, we proposed alternative protocols for following patients with treated Chagas disease and these are reviewed herein. Evidence was provided to support the following: (i) functional anti-trypomastigote antibodies are indicative of ongoing chronic Trypanosoma cruzi infections; (ii) specific antibodies detected by conventional serology (CS) with epimastigote extracts, fixed trypomastigotes or other parasite antigens may circulate years after parasite elimination; (iii) functional antibodies are evidenced by complement-mediated lysis of freshly isolated trypomastigotes, a test which is 100% specific, highly sensitive, and the first to revert after T. cruzi elimination and (iv) the parasite target for the lytic antibodies is a glycoprotein of high molecular weight (gp160) anchored at the parasite surface. The complement regulatory protein has been cloned, sequenced and produced as a recombinant protein by other groups and is useful for identifying functional anti-T. cruzi antibodies in ELISA tests, thus dispensing with the need for live trypomastigotes to manage treated patients. If used instead of CS to define cures for Chagas patients, ELISA will avoid unnecessary delays in finding anti-T. cruzi drugs. Other highly sensitive techniques for parasite DNA detection, such as PCR, need to be standardized and included in future protocols for the management of patients with drug-treated Chagas disease.
Abstract in English:Chagas heart disease (CHD) results from infection with the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi and is the leading cause of infectious myocarditis worldwide. It poses a substantial public health burden due to high morbidity and mortality. CHD is also the most serious and frequent manifestation of chronic Chagas disease and appears in 20-40% of infected individuals between 10-30 years after the original acute infection. In recent decades, numerous clinical and experimental investigations have shown that a low-grade but incessant parasitism, along with an accompanying immunological response [either parasite-driven (most likely) or autoimmune-mediated], plays an important role in producing myocardial damage in CHD. At the same time, primary neuronal damage and microvascular dysfunction have been described as ancillary pathogenic mechanisms. Conduction system disturbances, atrial and ventricular arrhythmias, congestive heart failure, systemic and pulmonary thromboembolism and sudden cardiac death are the most common clinical manifestations of chronic Chagas cardiomyopathy. Management of CHD aims to relieve symptoms, identify markers of unfavourable prognosis and treat those individuals at increased risk of disease progression or death. This article reviews the pathophysiology of myocardial damage, discusses the value of current risk stratification models and proposes an algorithm to guide mortality risk assessment and therapeutic decision-making in patients with CHD.
Abstract in English:Chagas disease is a pleomorphic clinical entity that has several unique features. The aim of this study is to summarise some of the recent contributions from our research group to knowledge of the morbidity and prognostic factors in Chagas heart disease. A retrospective study suggested that ischaemic stroke associated with left ventricular (LV) apical thrombi is the first clinical manifestation of Chagas disease observed in a large proportion of patients. LV function and left atrial volume (LAV) are independent risk factors for ischaemic cerebrovascular events during follow-up of Chagas heart disease patients. Pulmonary congestion in Chagas-related dilated cardiomyopathy is common but usually mild. Although early right ventricular (RV) involvement has been described, we have shown by Doppler echocardiography that RV dysfunction is evident almost exclusively when it is associated with left ventricle dilatation and functional impairment. In addition, RV dysfunction is a powerful predictor of survival in patients with heart failure secondary to Chagas disease. We have also demonstrated that LAV provides incremental prognostic information independent of clinical data and conventional echocardiographic parameters that predict survival.
Abstract in English:The purpose of this review is to describe research findings regarding chronic Chagas disease in Argentina that have changed the standards of care for patients with Trypanosoma cruzi infection. Indirect techniques (serological tests) are still the main tools for the primary diagnosis of infection in the chronic phase, but polymerase chain reaction has been shown to be promising. The prognosis of patients with heart failure or advanced stages of chagasic cardiomyopathy is poor, but a timely diagnosis during the initial stages of the disease would allow for prescription of appropriate therapies to offer a better quality of life. Treatment of T. cruzi infection is beneficial as secondary prevention to successfully cure the infection or to delay, reduce or prevent the progression to disease and as primary disease prevention by breaking the chain of transmission. Current recommendations have placed the bulk of the diagnostic and treatment responsibility on the Primary Health Care System. Overall, the current research priorities with respect to Chagas disease should be targeted towards (i) the production of new drugs that would provide a shorter treatment course with fewer side effects; (ii) the development of new tools to confirm cure after a full course of treatment during the chronic phase and (iii) biomarkers to identify patients with a high risk of developing diseases.
Abstract in English:In 1987, the University of Pernambuco's Oswaldo Cruz Hospital in Recife, Brazil opened its Chagas Disease and Heart Failure Outpatient Clinic with the aim of providing its patients all-around care through adoption of a biopsychosocial model of care. All-around care involves caring for the patient as a whole human being in the context of the biological, psychological and social factors present, which are an inherent part of the human condition. One prerequisite for the proposed model of care is the participation of a multidisciplinary team of trained technical staff committed to this framework. Although the main focus of the service is on care, teaching and research are also an important part of its work. The Pernambuco Association of Chagas Disease Patients is guided by the same model of care and has been carrying out educational activities relating to the disease, its treatment and support for patients and family members for several years. This Association plays an important role in advocating to public authorities on behalf of patients. The accumulated experience of the past 22 years has shown us that a broad vision of health care can help clinicians and policy makers to make decisions that are more in tune with the everyday reality of the patient, which in turn has a positive impact on adherence to treatment and quality of life.
Abstract in English:Despite the wealth of information generated by trans-disciplinary research in Chagas disease, knowledge about its multifaceted pathogenesis is still fragmented. Here we review the body of experimental studies in animal models supporting the concept that persistent infection by Trypanosoma cruzi is crucial for the development of chronic myocarditis. Complementing this review, we will make an effort to reconcile seemingly contradictory results concerning the immune profiles of chronic patients from Argentina and Brazil. Finally, we will review the results of molecular studies suggesting that parasite-induced inflammation and tissue damage is, at least in part, mediated by the activities of trans-sialidase, mucin-linked lipid anchors (TLR2 ligand) and cruzipain (a kinin-releasing cysteine protease). One hundred years after the discovery of Chagas disease, it is reassuring that basic and clinical research tends to converge, raising new perspectives for the treatment of chronic Chagas disease.
Abstract in English:Chronic cardiopathy (CC) in Chagas disease is a fibrotic myocarditis with C5b-9 complement deposition. Mycoplasma and Chlamydia may interfere with the complement response. Proteolytic enzymes and archaeal genes that have been described in Trypanosoma cruzi may increase its virulence. Here we tested the hypothesis that different ratios of Mycoplasma, Chlamydia and archaeal organisms, which are frequent symbionts, may be associated with chagasic clinical forms. MATERIALS AND METHODS: eight indeterminate form (IF) and 20 CC chagasic endomyocardial biopsies were submitted to in situ hybridization, electron and immunoelectron microscopy and PCR techniques for detection of Mycoplasma pneumoniae (MP), Chlamydia pneumoniae(CP), C5b-9 and archaeal-like bodies. RESULTS: MP and CP-DNA were always present at lower levels in CC than in IF (p < 0.001) and were correlated with each other only in CC. Electron microscopy revealed Mycoplasma, Chlamydia and two types of archaeal-like bodies. One had electron dense lipid content (EDL) and was mainly present in IF. The other had electron lucent content (ELC) and was mainly present in CC. In this group, ELC correlated negatively with the other microbes and EDL and positively with C5b-9. The CC group was positive for Archaea and T. cruzi DNA. In conclusion, different amounts of Mycoplasma, Chlamydia and archaeal organisms may be implicated in complement activation and may have a role in Chagas disease outcome.
Abstract in English:Perhaps one of the most intriguing aspects of human Chagas disease is the complex network of events that underlie the generation of protective versus pathogenic immune responses during the chronic phase of the disease. While most individuals do not develop patent disease, a large percentage may develop severe forms that eventually lead to death. Although many efforts have been devoted to deciphering these mechanisms, there is still much to be learned before we can fully understand the pathogenesis of Chagas disease. It is clear that the host's immune response is decisive in this process. While characteristics of the parasite influence the immune response, it is becoming evident that the host genetic background plays a fundamental role in the establishment of pathogenic versus protective responses. The involvement of three complex organisms, host, parasite and vector, is certainly one of the key aspects that calls for multidisciplinary approaches towards the understanding of Chagas disease. We believe that now, one hundred years after the discovery of Chagas disease, it is imperative to continue with highly interactive research in order to elucidate the immune response associated with disease evolution, which will be essential in designing prophylactic or therapeutic interventions.
Abstract in English:Trypanosoma cruzi infection of the adipose tissue of mice triggers the local expression of inflammatory mediators and a reduction in the expression of the adipokine adiponectin. T. cruzi can be detected in adipose tissue by PCR 300 days post-infection. Infection of cultured adipocytes results in increased expression of cytokines and chemokines and a reduction in the expression of adiponectin and the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor ³, both of which are negative regulators of inflammation. Infection also results in the upregulation of cyclin D1, the Notch pathway, and extracellular signal-regulated kinase and a reduction in the expression of caveolin-1. Thus, T. cruzi infection of cultured adipocytes leads to an upregulation of the inflammatory process. Since adiponectin null mice have a cardiomyopathic phenotype, it is possible that the reduction in adiponectin contributes to the pathogenesis of chagasic cardiomyopathy. Adipose tissue may serve as a reservoir for T. cruzi from which parasites can become reactivated during periods of immunosuppression. T. cruzi infection of mice often results in hypoglycemia. In contrast, hyperglycemia as observed in diabetes results in increased parasitemia and mortality. Adipose tissue is an important target tissue of T. cruzi and the infection of this tissue is associated with a profound impact on systemic metabolism, increasing the risk of metabolic syndrome.
Abstract in English:One hundred years ago, Carlos Chagas discovered a new disease, the American trypanosomiasis. Chagas and co-workers later characterised the disease's common manifestation, chronic cardiomyopathy, and suggested that parasitic persistence coupled with inflammation was the key underlying pathogenic mechanism. Better comprehension of the molecular mechanisms leading to clinical heart afflictions is a prerequisite to developing new therapies that ameliorate inflammation and improve heart function without hampering parasite control. Here, we review recent data showing that distinct cell adhesion molecules, chemokines and chemokine receptors participate in anti-parasite immunity and/or detrimental leukocyte trafficking to the heart. Moreover, we offer evidence that CC-chemokine receptors may be attractive therapeutic targets aiming to regain homeostatic balance in parasite/host interaction thereby improving prognosis, supporting that it is becoming a non-phantasious proposal.
Abstract in English:Trypanosoma cruzi infection triggers substantial production of nitric oxide (NO), which has been shown to have protective and toxic effects on the host's immune system. Sensing of trypomastigotes by phagocytes activates the inducible NO-synthase (NOS2) pathway, which produces NO and is largely responsible for macrophage-mediated killing of T. cruzi. NO is also responsible for modulating virtually all steps of innate and adaptive immunity. However, NO can also cause oxidative stress, which is especially damaging to the host due to increased tissue damage. The cytokines IFN-³ and TNF-±, as well as chemokines, are strong inducers of NOS2 and are produced in large amounts during T. cruzi acute infection. Conversely, TGF-² and IL-10 negatively regulate NO production. Here we discuss the recent evidence describing the mechanisms by which NO is able to exert its antimicrobial and immune regulatory effects, the mechanisms involved in the oxidative stress response during infection and the implications of NO for the development of therapeutic strategies against T. cruzi.
Abstract in English:There is a general consensus that during chronic Trypanosoma cruzi infection, the host immune system induces complex processes to ensure the control of parasite growth while preserving the potential to mount and maintain a life-long controlled humoral and cellular immune response against the invading pathogen. This review summarises evidence in an attempt to elucidate "what must be understood" to further clarify the role of innate immunity in the development/maintenance of clinical Chagas disease and the impact of etiological treatment on host immunity, highlighting the contributions of the innate immunity and regulatory T (Treg) cells. Recently, increasing focus on innate immunity suggest that chronic T. cruzi infection may cause morbidity when innate effector functions, or the down-regulation of adaptive regulatory mechanisms are lacking. In this context, stable asymptomatic host-parasite interactions seem to be influenced by the effector/regulatory balance with the participation of macrophages, natural killer (NK) and CD8+ T cells in parallel with the establishment of regulatory mechanisms mediated by NKT and Treg cells. Moreover, a balanced innate immune activation state, apart from Treg cells, may play a role in controlling the adverse events triggered by the massive antigen release induced by trypanosomicidal agents during Chagas disease etiological treatment.
Abstract in English:The pathogenesis of Chagas disease cardiomyopathy (CCC) is not well understood. Since studies show that myocarditis is more frequent during the advanced stages of the disease, and the prognosis of CCC is worse than that of other dilated cardiomyopathies of non-inflammatory aetiology, which suggest that the inflammatory infiltrate plays a major role in myocardial damage. In the last decade, increasing evidence has shown that inflammatory cytokines and chemokines play a role in the generation of the inflammatory infiltrate and tissue damage. CCC patients have an increased peripheral production of the inflammatory Th1 cytokines IFN-³ and TNF-± when compared to patients with the asymptomatic/indeterminate form. Moreover, Th1-T cells are the main producers of IFN-³ and TNF-± and are frequently found in CCC myocardial inflammatory infiltrate. Over the past several years, our group has collected evidence that shows several cytokines and chemokines produced in the CCC myocardium may also have a non-immunological pathogenic effect via modulation of gene and protein expression in cardiomyocytes and other myocardial cell types. Furthermore, genetic polymorphisms of cytokine, chemokine and innate immune response genes have been associated with disease progression. We will review the molecular and immunological mechanisms of myocardial damage in human CCC in light of recent findings.
Abstract in English:Host cell apoptosis plays an important immune regulatory role in parasitic infections. Infection of mice with Trypanosoma cruzi, the causative agent of Chagas disease, induces lymphocyte apoptosis. In addition, phagocytosis of apoptotic cells stimulates the growth of T. cruzi inside host macrophages. In spite of progress made in this area, the importance of apoptosis in the pathogenesis of Chagas disease remains unclear. Here we review the evidence of apoptosis in mice and humans infected with T. cruzi. We also discuss the mechanisms by which apoptosis can influence underlying host responses and tissue damage during Chagas disease progression.
Abstract in English:This review will focus on two general approaches carried out at the Sandler Center, University of California, San Francisco, to address the challenge of developing new drugs for the treatment of Chagas disease. The first approach is target-based drug discovery, and two specific targets, cytochrome P450 CYP51 and cruzain (aka cruzipain), are discussed. A "proof of concept" molecule, the vinyl sulfone inhibitor K777, is now a clinical candidate. The preclinical assessment compliance for filing as an Investigational New Drug with the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is presented, and an outline of potential clinical trials is given. The second approach to identifying new drug leads is parasite phenotypic screens in culture. The development of an assay allowing high throughput screening of Trypanosoma cruzi amastigotes in skeletal muscle cells is presented. This screen has the advantage of not requiring specific strains of parasites, so it could be used with field isolates, drug resistant strains or laboratory strains. It is optimized for robotic liquid handling and has been validated through a screen of a library of FDA-approved drugs identifying 65 hits.
Abstract in English:Trypanosoma cruzi sialoglycoproteins (Tc-mucins) are mucin-like molecules linked to a parasite membrane via a glycosylphosphatidylinositol anchor. We previously determined the structures of Tc-mucin O-glycan domains from several T. cruzi strains and observed significant differences among them. We now report the amino acid content and structure of Tc-mucin O-glycan chains from T. cruzi Colombiana, a strain resistant to common trypanocidal drugs. Amino acid analysis demonstrated the predominance of threonine residues (42%) and helped to identify the O-glycans as belonging to a Tc-mucin family that contain a ²-galactofuranose (²-Galf) residue attached to an α-N-acetylglucosamine (α-GlcNAc) O-4, with the most complex glycan, a pentasaccharide-GlcNAc-ol with a branched trigalactopyranose chain, on the GlcNAc O-6. The presence of ²-Galf on O-glycans from T. cruzi Colombiana mucins supports the use of glycosylation as a phylogenetic marker for the classification of Colombiana in the T. cruzi I group.
Abstract in English:The perspectives for a Chagas Disease vaccine 30 years ago and today are compared. Antigens and adjuvants have improved, but logistic problems remain the same. Sterilizing vaccines have not been produced and animal models for chronic Chagas have not been developed. Vector control has been successful and Chagas incidence has come to a halt. We do not have a population candidate to vaccination now in Brazil. And if we had, we would not know how to evaluate the success of vaccination in a short time period. A vaccine may not seem important at the moment. However, scientific reasons and incertitudes about the future recommend that a search for a vaccine be continued.
Abstract in English:Vaccines have had an unquestionable impact on public health during the last century. The most likely reason for the success of vaccines is the robust protective properties of specific antibodies. However, antibodies exert a strong selective pressure and many microorganisms, such as the obligatory intracellular parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, have been selected to survive in their presence. Although the host develops a strong immune response to T. cruzi, they do not clear the infection and instead progress to the chronic phase of the disease. Parasite persistence during the chronic phase of infection is now considered the main factor contributing to the chronic symptoms of the disease. Based on this finding, containment of parasite growth and survival may be one method to avoid the immunopathology of the chronic phase. In this context, vaccinologists have looked over the past 20 years for other immune effector mechanisms that could eliminate these antibody-resistant pathogens. We and others have tested the hypothesis that non-antibody-mediated cellular immune responses (CD4+ Th1 and CD8+ Tc1 cells) to specific parasite antigens/genes expressed by T. cruzi could indeed be used for the purpose of vaccination. This hypothesis was confirmed in different mouse models, indicating a possible path for vaccine development.
Abstract in English:Upon infection, Trypanosoma cruzi triggers a strong immune response that has both protective and pathological consequences. In this work, several important questions regarding protective immunity are reviewed. Emphasis is placed on recent studies of the important protective role of CD8+ T cells and on previous studies of immunisation of domestic T. cruzi reservoirs that sought to address practical vaccination problems. Research on the maturation of memory cells and studies indicating that the prevalence of T. cruzi-specific T-cell responses and a high frequency of committed CD8+ T cells are associated with better clinical outcomes are also reviewed. Additionally, animal models in which protection was achieved without immunopathological consequences are discussed.
Abstract in English:Trypanosoma cruzi proline racemases (TcPRAC) are homodimeric enzymes that interconvert the L and D-enantiomers of proline. At least two paralogous copies of proline racemase (PR) genes are present per parasite haploid genome and they are differentially expressed during T. cruzi development. Non-infective epimastigote forms that overexpress PR genes differentiate more readily into metacyclic infective forms that are more invasive to host cells, indicating that PR participates in mechanisms of virulence acquisition. Using a combination of biochemical and enzymatic methods, we show here that, in addition to free D-amino acids, non-infective epimastigote and infective metacyclic parasite extracts possess peptides composed notably of D-proline. The relative contribution of TcPRAC to D-proline availability and its further assembly into peptides was estimated through the use of wild-type parasites and parasites over-expressing TcPRAC genes. Our data suggest that D-proline-bearing peptides, similarly to the mucopeptide layer of bacterial cell walls, may be of benefit to T. cruzi by providing resistance against host proteolytic mechanisms.
Abstract in English:Chagas disease, which is caused by the intracellular parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, is a neglected illness with 12-14 million reported cases in endemic geographic regions of Latin America. While the disease still represents an important public health problem in these affected areas, the available therapy, which was introduced more than four decades ago, is far from ideal due to its substantial toxicity, its limited effects on different parasite stocks, and its poor activity during the chronic phase of the disease. For the past 15 years, our group, in collaboration with research groups focused on medicinal chemistry, has been working on experimental chemotherapies for Chagas disease, investigating the biological activity, toxicity, selectivity and cellular targets of different classes of compounds on T. cruzi. In this report, we present an overview of these in vitro and in vivo studies, focusing on the most promising classes of compounds with the aim of contributing to the current knowledge of the treatment of Chagas disease and aiding in the development of a new arsenal of candidates with anti-T. cruzi efficacy.
Abstract in English:This article presents an overview of the currently available drugs nifurtimox (NFX) and benznidazole (BZN) used against Trypanosoma cruzi, the aetiological agent of Chagas disease; herein we discuss their limitations along with potential alternatives with a focus on ergosterol biosynthesis inhibitors (EBI). These compounds are currently the most advanced candidates for new anti-T. cruzi agents given that they block de novo production of 24-alkyl-sterols, which are essential for parasite survival and cannot be replaced by a host's own cholesterol. Among these compounds, new triazole derivatives that inhibit the parasite's C14± sterol demethylase are the most promising, as they have been shown to have curative activity in murine models of acute and chronic Chagas disease and are active against NFX and BZN-resistant T. cruzi strains; among this class of compounds, posaconazole (Schering-Plough Research Institute) and ravuconazole (Eisai Company) are poised for clinical trials in Chagas disease patients in the short term. Other T. cruzi-specific EBI, with in vitro and in vivo potency, include squalene synthase, lanosterol synthase and squalene epoxidase-inhibitors as well as compounds with dual mechanisms of action (ergosterol biosynthesis inhibition and free radical generation), but they are less advanced in their development process. The main putative advantages of EBI over currently available therapies include their higher potency and selectivity in both acute and chronic infections, activity against NFX and BZN-resistant T. cruzi strains, and much better tolerability and safety profiles. Limitations may include complexity and cost of manufacture of the new compounds. As for any new drug, such compounds will require extensive clinical testing before being introduced for clinical use, and the complexity of such studies, particularly in chronic patients, will be compounded by the current limitations in the verification of true parasitological cures for T. cruzi infections.
Abstract in English:Among the pathophysiological derangements operating in the chronic phase of Chagas disease, parasite persistence is likely to constitute the main mechanism of myocardial injury in patients with chronic chagasic cardiomyopathy. The presence of Trypanosoma cruzi in the heart causes a low-grade, but relentless, inflammatory process and induces myocardial autoimmune injury. These facts suggest that trypanocidal therapy may positively impact the clinical course of patients with chronic Chagas heart disease. However, the experimental and clinical evidence currently available is insufficient to support the routine use of etiologic treatment in these patients. The BENEFIT project - Benznidazole Evaluation for Interrupting Trypanosomiasis - is an international, multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of trypanocidal treatment with benznidazole in patients with chronic Chagas heart disease. This project is actually comprised of two studies. The pilot study investigates whether etiologic treatment significantly reduces parasite burden, as assessed by polymerase chain reaction-based techniques and also determines the safety and tolerability profile of the trypanocidal drug in this type of chagasic population. The full-scale study determines whether antitrypanosomal therapy with benznidazole reduces mortality and other major cardiovascular clinical outcomes in patients with chronic Chagas heart disease.
Abstract in English:One century after its discovery, Chagas disease, caused by the protozoan, Trypanosoma cruzi, remains a major health problem in Latin America. Mortality and morbidity are mainly due to chronic processes that lead to dysfunction of the cardiac and digestive systems. About one third of the chronic chagasic individuals have or will develop the symptomatic forms of the disease, with cardiomyopathy being the most common chronic form. This is a progressively debilitating disease for which there are no currently available effective treatments other than heart transplantation. Like in other cardiac diseases, tissue engineering and cell therapy have been investigated in the past few years as a means of recovering the heart function lost as a consequence of chronic damage caused by the immune-mediated pathogenic mechanisms elicited in individuals with chronic chagasic cardiomyopathy. Here we review the studies of cell therapy in animal models and patients with chronic Chagas disease and the perspectives of the recovery of the heart function lost due to infection with T. cruzi.