Internalization of Leptospira interrogans via diverse endocytosis mechanisms in human macrophages and vascular endothelial cells

Posted on 22.09.2022 - 18:17

Leptospirosis, one of the leading global causes of morbidity and mortality, is an emerging public health problem, particularly in large urban centers of developing countries. Leptospirosis results from infection with an organism belonging to the Leptospira genus L. interrogans. The extensive invasive ability has previously been documented, however a mechanism that describes how the organism is internalized by human macrophages and transmigrates through human blood vessel remains poorly understood. In the present study, we utilized a human macrophage and vascular endothelial cell line to study the diverse invasive mechanisms by which L. interrogans infections occur. We found that THP-1 and HUVEC had a diverse expression of cell receptors and L. interrogans entered THP-1 and HUVEC by different pathways. In the macrophage model cell line, ITGB1/FAK-signaling mediated microfilament dependent endocytosis with lysosome fusion, whereas ITGB1/CAV-1/PI3K-signaling mediated microfilament dependent endocytosis and transcytosis without lysosome fusion in the endothelial cell model. Shedding of pathogenic leptospires from HUVEC displayed higher viability than those from THP-1. The monolayer of HUVEC maintained integrity during the infection, while 3D imaging showed that leptospires were transmigrated both intra- and intercellularly. These results indicate that endocytosis of leptospires in human macrophages and human vascular endothelial cells are quite different, macrophages are responsible for eliminating leptospires in the human body during the infection while vascular endothelial cells facilitate dissemination of leptospires from blood vessels into target organs where they cause injury.

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Zhao, Xin; Guo, Jun; Jia, Xiaoyuan; Yang, Yaling; Liu, Lijuan; Nie, Weizhong; et al. (2022): Internalization of Leptospira interrogans via diverse endocytosis mechanisms in human macrophages and vascular endothelial cells. PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. Collection. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0010778
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