Immune Checkpoint Targets for Host-Directed Therapy to Prevent and Treat Leishmaniasis
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Leishmaniasis encompasses a group of diseases caused by protozoan parasites belonging to the genus Leishmania. These diseases range from life threatening visceral forms to self-healing cutaneous lesions, and each disease manifestations can progress to complications involving dissemination of parasites to skin or mucosal tissue. A feature of leishmaniasis is the key role host immune responses play in disease outcome. T cells are critical for controlling parasite growth. However, they can also contribute to disease onset and progression. For example, potent regulatory T cell responses can develop that suppress antiparasitic immunity. Alternatively, hyperactivated CD4+ or CD8+ T cells can be generated that cause damage to host tissues. There is no licensed human vaccine and drug treatment options are often limited and problematic. Hence, there is an urgent need for new strategies to improve the efficacy of current vaccine candidates and/or enhance both antiparasitic drug effectiveness and subsequent immunity in treated individuals. Here, we describe our current understanding about host immune responses contributing to disease protection and progression in the various forms of leishmaniasis. We also discuss how this knowledge may be used to develop new strategies for host-directed immune therapy to prevent or treat leishmaniasis. Given the major advances made in immune therapy in the cancer and autoimmune fields in recent years, there are significant opportunities to ride on the back of these successes in the infectious disease domain. Conversely, the rapid progress in our understanding about host immune responses during leishmaniasis is also providing opportunities to develop novel immunotherapy strategies that could have broad applications in diseases characterized by inflammation or immune dysfunction.
Frontiers in Immunology
© 2017 Kumar, Chauhan, Ng, Sundar and Engwerda. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.