Chagas disease, caused by Trypanosoma cruzi
, represents an endemic among Latin America countries. The participation of free radicals, especially nitric oxide (NO), has been demonstrated in the pathophysiology of seropositive individuals with T. cruzi
. In Chagas disease, increased NO contributes to the development of cardiomyopathy and megacolon. Metallothioneins (MTs) are efficient free radicals scavengers of NO in vitro and in vivo. Here, we developed a murine model of the chronic phase of Chagas disease using endemic T. cruzi
RyCH1 in BALB/c mice, which were divided into four groups: infected non-treated (Inf), infected N-monomethyl-L-arginine treated (Inf L-NAME), non-infected L-NAME treated and non-infected vehicle-treated. We determined blood parasitaemia and NO levels, the extent of parasite nests in tissues and liver MT-I expression levels. It was observed that NO levels were increasing in Inf mice in a time-dependent manner. Inf L-NAME mice had fewer T. cruzi
nests in cardiac and skeletal muscle with decreased blood NO levels at day 135 post infection. This affect was negatively correlated with an increase of MT-I expression (r = -0.8462, p < 0.0001). In conclusion, we determined that in Chagas disease, an unknown inhibitory mechanism reduces MT-I expression, allowing augmented NO levels.