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Leptospira pathophysiology: into the storm of cytokines

Abstract : Leptospirosis is a neglected tropical zoonosis caused by pathogenic spirochetes of the genus Leptospira. Infected reservoir animals, typically mice and rats, are asymptomatic, carry the pathogen in their renal tubules, and shed pathogenic spirochetes in their urine, contaminating the environment. Humans are accidental hosts of pathogenic Leptospira. Most human infections are mild or asymptomatic. However, 10% of human leptospirosis cases develop into severe forms, including high leptospiremia, multi-organ injuries, and a dramatically increased mortality rate, which can relate to a sepsis-like phenotype. During infection, the triggering of the inflammatory response, especially through the production of cytokines, is essential for the early elimination of pathogens. However, uncontrolled cytokine production can result in a cytokine storm process, followed by a state of immunoparalysis, which can lead to sepsis and associated organ failures. In this review, the involvement of cytokine storm and subsequent immunoparalysis in the development of severe leptospirosis in susceptible hosts will be discussed. The potential contribution of major pro-inflammatory cytokines in the development of tissue lesions and systemic inflammatory response, as well as the role of anti-inflammatory cytokines in contributing to the onset of a deleterious immunosuppressive cascade will also be examined. Data from studies comparing susceptible and resistant mouse models will be included. Lastly, a concise discussion on the use of cytokines for therapeutic purposes or as biomarkers of leptospirosis severity will be provided.
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Julie Cagliero, Sharon Villanueva, Mariko Matsui. Leptospira pathophysiology: into the storm of cytokines. Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology, Frontiers, 2018, 8, pp.204 - 204. ⟨10.3389/fcimb.2018.00204⟩. ⟨pasteur-01812933⟩

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