Fibronectin modulates thymocyte-thymic epithelial cell interactions following Trypanosoma cruzi infection|
Farias-de-Oliveira, Désio Aurélio; Cotta-de-Almeida, Vinícius; Villa-Verde, Déa Maria S.; Riederer, Ingo; de Meis, Juliana de Meis & Savino, Wilson
Developing thymocytes interact with thymic epithelial cells (TECs) through cell-cell interactions, TEC-derived secretory moieties and extracellular matrix (ECM)-mediated interactions. These physiological interactions are crucial for normal thymocyte differentiation, but can be disrupted in pathological situations. Indeed, there is severe thymic atrophy in animals acutely infected with Trypanosoma cruzi due to CD4+CD8+ thymocyte depletion secondary to caspase-mediated apoptosis, together with changes in ECM deposition and thymocyte migration. We studied an in vitro model of TEC infection by T. cruzi and found that infected TEC cultures show a reduced number of cells, which was likely associated with decreased proliferative capacity, but not with increased cell death, as demonstrated by bromodeoxyuridine and annexin-V labelling. The infected TEC cultures exhibited increased expression of fibronectin (FN), laminin (LM) and type IV collagen. Importantly, treatment with FN increased the relative number of infected cells, whereas treatment with anti-FN or anti-LM antibodies resulted in lower infection rates. Consistent with these data, we observed increased thymocyte adhesion to infected TEC cultures. Overall, these results suggest that ECM molecules, particularly FN, facilitate infection of the thymic epithelium and that the consequent enhancement of ECM expression might be associated with changes in TEC-thymocyte interactions.
Trypanosoma cruzi; thymic epithelial cells; thymocytes; fibronectin; laminin