Experimental infection of Balb/c mice with Leishmania panamensis and Leishmania mexicana: induction of early IFN-gamma but not IL-4 is associated with the development of cutaneous lesions

Scand J Immunol. 1997 Jul;46(1):35-40. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-3083.1997.d01-96.x.


Resistance to the Leishmaniae is associated with interferon (IFN)-gamma mediated activation of macrophages. In this study, Balb/c mice were infected with three Leishmania strains that cause progressively growing cutaneous lesions without obvious dissemination: L. mexicana mexicana giving rise to rapidly growing lesions, and L. (Viannia) panamensis and L. mexicana-like, which both cause slowly developing lesions. The rate of lesion growth was compared to induction of early local and systemic IFN-gamma responses. All the three parasite strains induced increased levels of IFN-gamma transcripts 24 h after infection. Infection with the more aggressive strain resulted in a notably lower IFN-gamma response when compared to infection with the two low pathogenic strains. Interleukin-4 (IL-4) mRNA appeared 7 days after infection with L. (Viannia) panamensis and L. mexicana-like but not with L. mexicana mexicana. Thus, virulence of these Leishmania strains could not be associated with induction of IL-4 during the first week after infection. In addition, none of the Leishmania strains induced detectable mRNA for IL-12 or inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS). These data present a picture somewhat different from that which has been described in L. major experimental infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gene Expression
  • Interferon-gamma / biosynthesis*
  • Interferon-gamma / genetics
  • Interleukin-4 / biosynthesis*
  • Interleukin-4 / genetics
  • Leishmania mexicana / immunology*
  • Leishmaniasis, Cutaneous / immunology*
  • Leishmaniasis, Cutaneous / pathology
  • Lymph Nodes / parasitology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Spleen / parasitology
  • Time Factors


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Interleukin-4
  • Interferon-gamma