Increased Trypanosoma cruzi Growth during Infection of Macrophages Cultured on Collagen I Matrix

Life (Basel). 2023 Apr 21;13(4):1063. doi: 10.3390/life13041063.


The interactions between cell and cellular matrix confers plasticity to each body tissue, influencing the cellular migratory capacity. Macrophages rely on motility to promote their physiological function. These phagocytes are determinant for the control of invasive infections, and their immunological role largely depends on their ability to migrate and adhere to tissue. Therefore, they interact with the components of the extracellular matrix through their adhesion receptors, conferring morphological modifications that change their shape during migration. Nevertheless, the need to use in vitro cell growth models with the conditioning of three-dimensional synthetic matrices to mimic the dynamics of cell-matrix interaction has been increasingly studied. This becomes more important to effectively understand the changes occurring in phagocyte morphology in the context of infection progression, such as in Chagas disease. This disease is caused by the intracellular pathogen Trypanosoma cruzi, capable of infecting macrophages, determinant cells in the anti-trypanosomatid immunity. In the present study, we sought to understand how an in vitro extracellular matrix model interferes with T. cruzi infection in macrophages. Using different time intervals and parasite ratios, we evaluated the cell morphology and parasite replication rate in the presence of 3D collagen I matrix. Nevertheless, microscopy techniques such as scanning electron microscopy were crucial to trace macrophage-matrix interactions. In the present work, we demonstrated for the first time that the macrophage-matrix interaction favors T. cruzi in vitro replication and the release of anti-inflammatory cytokines during macrophage infection, in addition to drastically altering the morphology of the macrophages and promoting the formation of migratory macrophages.

Keywords: 3D matrix; Trypanosoma cruzi; collagen I; extracellular matrix; macrophage.

Grants and funding

This work was supported by the Brazilian National Research Council (CNPq), Rio de Janeiro State Science Foundation (FAPERJ), and Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (FIOCRUZ).