Volume 38, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



The eosinophil granule major basic protein, the eosinophil cationic protein, and the eosinophil-derived neurotoxin were found to be lytic for trypomastigotes from blood, cell cultures, or insect vectors and for cultured amastigotes. The toxic effects of the major basic and cationic proteins were inhibited by the polyanions heparin and dextran sulfate, in keeping with the cationic nature of these proteins, or by heat denaturation, suggesting that molecular conformation was also relevant. The lytic activity of the neurotoxin was not inhibited by heating at 56°C for 4 hr, establishing an additional difference with the eosinophil cationic protein. Heparin had only a slight inhibitory effect on the toxicity of the neurotoxin, and dextran sulfate was inactive even at 25 mg/ml. Although both the eosinophil cationic protein and the neurotoxin possess ribonuclease activity, only the toxicity of the latter was abolished by the ribonuclease inhibitor RNasin® (Promega, Madison, Wisconsin) or by a competitive substrate, yeast ribonucleic acid. Eosinophil peroxidase significantly increased the extent of trypomastigote or amastigote killing by hydrogen peroxide in the presence of iodide. This effect was abrogated by sodium azide, bovine serum albumin, or gelatin, known inhibitors of the eosinophil peroxidase + halide + hydrogen peroxide system. These results suggest that the destruction of trypomastigotes and amastigotes by eosinophils may result from toxic mechanisms involving several granule proteins.


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