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AbstractNeospora caninumis a coccidian intracellular protozoan capable of infecting a wide range of mammals, although severe disease is mostly reported in dogs and cattle. Innate defences triggered by monocytes/macrophages are key in the pathogenesis of neosporosis, as these cells are first-line defenders against intracellular infections. The aim of this study was to characterize infection and innate responses in macrophages infected withN. caninumusing a well-known cell model to study macrophage functions (human monocyte THP-1 cells). Intracellular invasion of live tachyzoites occurred as fast as 4 h (confirmed with immunofluorescence microscopy usingN. caninum-specific antibodies). Macrophages infected byN. caninumhad increased expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines (TNFα, IL-1β, IL-8, IFNγ). Interestingly,N. caninuminduced expression of host-defence peptides (cathelicidins), a mechanism of defence never reported forN. caninuminfection in macrophages. The expression of cytokines and cathelicidins in macrophages invaded byN. caninumwas mediated by mitogen-activated protein kinase (MEK 1/2). Secretion of such innate factors fromN. caninum-infected macrophages reduced parasite internalization and promoted the secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines in naïve macrophages. We concluded that rapid invasion of macrophages byN. caninumtriggered protective innate defence mechanisms against intracellular pathogens.

Original publication




Journal article




Cambridge University Press (CUP)

Publication Date





871 - 884