Leishmania species: mechanisms of complement activation by five strains of promastigotes.
The interaction of fresh serum with promastigotes of Leishmania major, L. donovani, L. mexicana mexicana, L. mexicana amazonensis, and L. braziliensis guyanensis results in lysis of all strains tested with either fresh human or guinea pig serum at 37 C for 30 min. Lysis does not occur in the cold and requires divalent cations and complement that is active hemolytically. Serum deficient in the eighth component of complement is not lytic. Lysis of L. major, L. mexicana, and L. braziliensis proceeds fully in human serum containing EGTA/Mg2+ or in guinea pig serum deficient in the fourth complement component. These species consume only small amounts of C4 from human serum and do not require calcium to optimally bind C3. The data indicate that all are activators of the alternative complement pathway and that the classical pathway is not required for the lysis of these organisms. Promastigotes of L. donovani, in contrast, activate the classical pathway. The presence of calcium is required for both optimal C3 binding and parasite lysis, and L. donovani promastigotes consume C4 when incubated in human serum. In high concentrations, human serum agglutinates all tested Leishmania spp. The agglutinating factor does not require divalent cations, is heat stable, and works at 4 C, suggesting that it is an antibody. This "naturally occurring" antibody cross reacts with all Leishmania spp. and agglutinates them. The adsorption of serum with any Leishmania species or with beads that are Protein A coated, removes the agglutinogen. This factor causes a slight enhancement in alternative pathway activation by L. major and mediates the classical activation by L. donovani. In adsorbed serum, L. donovani promastigotes only weakly activate the alternative complement pathway. Increased concentrations of adsorbed serum are therefore necessary for lysis to proceed. The titer can be partially restored by the addition of heat inactivated serum. Using purified components of the classical cascade, we are unable to visualize surface bound C3 on L. donovani promastigotes unless heat inactivated serum is also present. We conclude that all Leishmania spp. promastigotes are susceptible to lysis by normal serum independent of antibody. The presence of small amounts of naturally occurring antibody in human serum enhances the susceptibility of L. donovani promastigotes to lysis by activating the classical complement pathway.
Mosser, DM; Burke, SK; Coutavas, EE; Wedgwood, JF; Edelson, PJ
Volume / Issue
Start / End Page
International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)