Volume 54, Issue 6
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



Sand flies are the arthropod vector of leishmaniasis and salivary gland extracts from these flies exacerbate leishmaniasis in vivo. The mechanism of exacerbation appears to be due to immunomodulatory effects of the saliva on host immune function but the active component is unknown. The following studies reveal that maxadilan, the vasodilatory peptide present in sand fly salivary gland extracts, has immunomodulatory properties. To examine the effect of maxadilan on T cell proliferation, the peptide was added to murine spleen cells stimulated with either concanavalin A or plate-bound anti-T cell receptor antibody. Inhibition of proliferation was noted in a dose-dependent manner for both sets of experiments ( < 0.05). To examine the effect of maxadilan on alloantigen presentation, the peptide was added to mixed lymphocyte and mixed epidermal cell lymphocyte reactions. Inhibition of proliferation was found in these culture systems. Maxadilan also inhibited the delayed-type hypersensitivity reaction in mice ( < 0.05). These observations suggest a role for maxadilan in the pathogenesis of leishmaniasis since the peptide may inhibit the immune response at the site of parasite inoculation, allowing the infection to proceed.


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