Trypanosoma cruzi infection causes cardiomyopathy and vasculopathy. We examined the consequence of this infection for the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways, which regelate cell proliferation in cultured human umbilical vein endothelial and vascular smooth muscle cells. Infection of these cells resulted in activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinases land 2 (ERK1/2) but not c-Jun N-terminal kinase or p38 MAPK. Treatment of these cells with the MAPK kinase inhibitor PD98059 prior to infection blocked the increase in phosphorylated ERK1/2 seen with infection. Heat-killed parasites did not activate ERK1/2, indicating that activation of ERK1/2 was dependent on infection of these cells by live parasites. Furthermore, transfection with dominant-negative Raf(301) or Ras(N17) constructs reduced the infection-associated levels of phospho-ERK1/2, indicating that the activation of ERK1/2 involved the Ras-Raf-ERK pathway. Infection also resulted in an increase in activator protein 1 (AP-1) activity, which was inhibited by transfection with a dominant-negative Raf(301) construct. T. cruzi-infected endothelial cells secreted endothelin-1 and interleukin-1β, which activated ERK1/2 and induced cyclin D1 expression in uninfected smooth muscle cells. These data suggest a possible molecular paradigm for the pathogenesis of the vasculopathy and the cardiovascular remodeling associated with T. cruzi infection.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases