IL-1β Production by Intermediate Monocytes Is Associated with Immunopathology in Cutaneous Leishmaniasis

J Invest Dermatol. 2018 May;138(5):1107-1115. doi: 10.1016/j.jid.2017.11.029. Epub 2017 Dec 12.


Cutaneous leishmaniasis due to Leishmania braziliensis infection is an inflammatory disease in which skin ulcer development is associated with mononuclear cell infiltrate and high levels of inflammatory cytokine production. Recently, NLRP3 inflammasome activation and IL-1β production have been associated with increased pathology in murine cutaneous leishmaniasis. We hypothesized that cutaneous leishmaniasis patients have increased expression of NLRP3, leading to high levels of IL-1β production. In this article we show high production of IL-1β in biopsy samples and Leishmania antigen-stimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cells from patients infected with L. braziliensis and reduced IL-1β levels after cure. IL-1β production positively correlated with the area of necrosis in lesions and duration of the lesions. The main source of IL-1β was intermediate monocytes (CD14++CD16+). Furthermore, our murine experiments show that IL-1β production in response to L. braziliensis was dependent on NLRP3, caspase-1, and caspase-recruiting domain (ASC). Additionally, we observed an increased expression of the NLRP3 gene in macrophages and the NLRP3 protein in intermediate monocytes from cutaneous leishmaniasis patients. These results identify an important role for human intermediate monocytes in the production of IL-1β, which contributes to the immunopathology observed in cutaneous leishmaniasis patients.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caspase 1 / physiology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-1beta / biosynthesis*
  • Leishmaniasis, Cutaneous / immunology*
  • Leishmaniasis, Cutaneous / pathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Monocytes / immunology*
  • NLR Family, Pyrin Domain-Containing 3 Protein / physiology
  • Phagocytosis


  • Interleukin-1beta
  • NLR Family, Pyrin Domain-Containing 3 Protein
  • Caspase 1