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Unravelling the unsolved paradoxes of cytokine families in host resistance and susceptibility to Leishmania infection

Osero, B.O.
Aruleba, R.T.
Brombacher, F.
Hurdayal, R.
Leishmaniasis is a neglected disease caused by protozoan parasites of the genus Leishmania. Successful clearance of Leishmania relies on a robust human immune response and various cytokines have been implicated in resistance and susceptibility to Leishmania infection. Accordingly, various immunotherapeutic approaches involving cytokines and cytokine receptors are being considered as novel avenues of treatment given the limited efficacy of current anti-leishmanial drugs. These approaches target canonical T helper (Th)1/Type 1 cytokines as intended mediators of host-protection to infection whilst concomitantly suppressing Th2/Type 2 cytokines and their anticipated disease-promoting roles. However, the use of cytokine and cytokine receptor gene-deficient mice over the years has challenged this simplistic view of Th1/Type 1-mediated resistance and Th2/Type 2-mediated susceptibility. Indeed, contribution to susceptibility vs resistance is only a partial consequence to cytokine action as the overall response is multi-faceted due to the pleiotropic, redundant, antagonistic and synergistic action of cytokines and interactions with immune cells in the diseased state. Notably, while the responses of certain cytokines are selectively host-protective or characteristic disease-enhancers, some ligands exert a response depending on the parasite-species initiating infection. Paradoxically, others play dual or contradictory roles in different Leishmania immunopathologies. Hence, cytokines in disease is an unsolved paradox and a comprehensive knowledge of cytokine interplay is important to guide the development of novel immunotherapeutics against leishmaniasis. In this review, we characterize various cytokine families in persistence and clearance of the Leishmania parasite and particularly elucidate unsolved cytokine puzzles in leishmaniasis based on information acquired from “gain of knowledge by loss of function” studies in cytokine and cytokine receptor gene-deficient mice.
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Cytokine families,Disease-enhancers,Host-protectors,Leishmaniasis
Osero BO, Aruleba RT, Brombacher F, Hurdayal R. Unravelling the unsolved paradoxes of cytokine families in host resistance and susceptibility to Leishmania infection. Cytokine X. 2020 Dec;2(4):100043. doi: 10.1016/j.cytox.2020.100043.
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