Volume 95, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is caused by the protozoan parasite . There are no vaccines and available drugs against leishmaniasis are toxic. Immunomodulators that specifically boost the anti-microbial activities of the immune cells could alleviate several of these limitations. Therefore, finding novel immunomodulators for VL therapy is a pressing need. This study is aimed to evaluate the immunomodulatory role of leptin, an adipocyte-derived hormone capable of regulating the immune response, in -infected mice. We observed that recombinant leptin treatment reduced splenic parasite burden compared with non-treated infected normal mice. Decrease in parasite burden correlated with an induction of innate immune response in antigen-presenting cells that showed an increase in nitric oxide, enhanced pro-inflammatory cytokine (interferon gamma [IFNγ], interleukin12 [IL]12, and IL1β) response in the splenocytes, indicating host-protecting Th1 response mediated by leptin. Moreover, in infected normal mice, leptin treatment induced IFNγ production from both CD4 and CD8 T cells, compared with non-treated infected mice. Alternatively, leptin-deficient (Ob/Ob) mice had higher splenic and liver parasite burden compared with the infected normal mice. However, leptin treatment failed to reduce the splenic parasite burden and improve a host-protective cytokine response in these mice. In addition, in contrast to dendritic cells (DCs) from a normal mouse, Ob/Ob mouse–derived DCs showed a defect in the induction of innate immune response on infection that could not be reversed by leptin treatment. Therefore, our findings reveal that leptin has a differential immunomodulatory effect in controlling VL in normal and Ob/Ob mice.

[open-access] This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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  • Received : 09 Nov 2015
  • Accepted : 07 Mar 2016

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