NO overproduction has been suggested to contribute to the immunopathology related to malaria infection. Even though a role for some parasite molecules (e.g., GPI) in NO induction has been proposed, the direct contribution of bemozoin (HZ), another parasite metabolite, remains to be established. Therefore, we were interested to determine whether Plasmodium falciparum (Pf) HZ and synthetic HZ, β-hematin, alone or in combination with IFN-γ, were able to induce macrophage (Mφ) NO synthesis. We observed that neither Pf HZ nor synthetic HZ led to NO generation in B10R murine Mφ; however, they significantly increased IFN-γ-mediated inducible NO synthase (iNOS) mRNA and protein expression, and NO production. Next, by investigating the transductional mechanisms involved in this cellular regulation, we established that HZ induces extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)1/2 mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphorylation as well as NF-κB binding to the iNOS promoter, and enhances the IFN-γ-dependent activation of both second messengers. Of interest, cell pretreatment with specific inhibitors against either NF-κB or the ERK1/2 pathway blocked the HZ + IFN-γ-inducible NF-κB activity and significantly reduced the HZ-dependent increase on IFN-γ-mediated iNOS and NO induction. Even though selective inhibition of the Janus kinase 2/STAT1α pathway suppressed NO synthesis in response to HZ + IFN-γ, HZ alone did not activate this signaling pathway and did not have an up-regulating effect on the IFN-γ-induced Janus kinase 2/STAT1α phosphorylation and STAT1α binding to the iNOS promoter. In conclusion, our results suggest that HZ exerts a potent synergistic effect on the IFN-γ-inducible NO generation in Mφ via ERK- and NF-κB-dependent pathways.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Immunology and Allergy