Transcriptomic signature of Leishmania infected mice macrophages: a metabolic point of view

Imen Rabhi, Sameh Rabhi, Rym Ben-Othman, Axel Rasche, Adriani Daskalaki, Bernadette Trentin, David Piquemal, Béatrice Regnault, Albert Descoteaux, Lamia Guizani-Tabbane, Sysco Consortium, Patricia Renard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We analyzed the transcriptional signatures of mouse bone marrow-derived macrophages at different times after infection with promastigotes of the protozoan parasite Leishmania major. Ingenuity Pathway Analysis revealed that the macrophage metabolic pathways including carbohydrate and lipid metabolisms were among the most altered pathways at later time points of infection. Indeed, L. major promastiogtes induced increased mRNA levels of the glucose transporter and almost all of the genes associated with glycolysis and lactate dehydrogenase, suggesting a shift to anaerobic glycolysis. On the other hand, L. major promastigotes enhanced the expression of scavenger receptors involved in the uptake of Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL), inhibited the expression of genes coding for proteins regulating cholesterol efflux, and induced the synthesis of triacylglycerides. These data suggested that Leishmania infection disturbs cholesterol and triglycerides homeostasis and may lead to cholesterol accumulation and foam cell formation. Using Filipin and Bodipy staining, we showed cholesterol and triglycerides accumulation in infected macrophages. Moreover, Bodipy-positive lipid droplets accumulated in close proximity to parasitophorous vacuoles, suggesting that intracellular L. major may take advantage of these organelles as high-energy substrate sources. While the effect of infection on cholesterol accumulation and lipid droplet formation was independent on parasite development, our data indicate that anaerobic glycolysis is actively induced by L. major during the establishment of infection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e1763
JournalPLoS neglected tropical diseases
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Anaerobiosis
  • Animals
  • Carbohydrate Metabolism
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Leishmania major
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Macrophages
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C


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