The role of nitric oxide in the innate resistance to microfilariae of Litomosoides sigmodontis in mice

Parasite Immunol. 2000 Aug;22(8):397-405. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-3024.2000.00317.x.


Nitric oxide (NO) has been shown to be an important effector mechanism in the defence against various pathogens, including filariae. The production of NO, as well as H2O2, is induced by the Th1 cytokine IFN-gamma. Therefore, the microfilariae (mf) of filarial nematodes, which are known to elicit the release of IFN-gamma, may be a target of NO release. In this study, we found that mf of the filarial species Litomosoides sigmodontis were resistant to the attack of H2O2, but vulnerable to NO exposure in vitro by a chemical NO donor, as well as activated macrophages. Adult worms were considerably less affected by exposure to NO. In-vivo production of NO following injection of mf, in this and previous studies, suggested a central role in the defence to filariae. However, neither pharmaceutical inhibition of nitric oxide synthesis, nor genetic knockout of the gene for inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), abrogated resistance to circulating mf in mice. Interestingly, however, iNOS-KO mice showed higher interleukin (IL)-2 responses and lower IL-10 production, compared to their wild-type counterparts. In conclusion, despite its effectiveness in vitro and the observed production of NO by ex vivo cells following infection, nitric oxide seems not to be an important factor in elimination of mf of L. sigmodontis in vivo. However, it may have a regulatory role in the immune response.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis
  • Filariasis / immunology*
  • Filariasis / parasitology
  • Filarioidea / drug effects
  • Filarioidea / growth & development
  • Filarioidea / immunology*
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / pharmacology
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Microfilariae / drug effects
  • Microfilariae / growth & development
  • Microfilariae / immunology
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism*
  • Nitric Oxide / pharmacology
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / genetics
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / metabolism
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II
  • Spleen / cytology


  • Cytokines
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II
  • Nos2 protein, mouse