Additionally, because this by-product modifies the behavior of important immune cells and prevents them from becoming fully active, it has potential as an inhibitor of common inflammatory diseases.
Trypanosomes are parasites of the mammalian bloodstream that rely on biting flies – like the tsetse fly — for transmission. They must constantly evade their hosts’ immune defenses through waves of infections, while simultaneously prolonging the survival of their hosts, so as to ensure life-cycle completion and future transmission via other biting flies.
Neither vaccination nor prophylactic intervention is possible, and all current treatments have associated limitations that restrict their application. Although cases of human infection have declined recently these parasites still represent a major societal burden across 36 sub-Saharan countries that are within range of the tsetse fly vector.
“The advantage for the parasite of excreting indolepyruvate is that it modulates the inflammatory and immune responses of the host — especially at the peaks of infection. This prolongs host survival and thereby potentiates the transmission of the parasite to the tsetse fly, which ensures it can complete its life cycle.”
“We are hopeful that by solving the riddle of the putrid camel pee, these new insights have unearthed a potential target for anti-trypanosome therapies, which are badly needed as sleeping sickness continues to claim a huge number of lives in sub-Saharan Africa.”
Citation: Trypanosoma brucei metabolite indolepyruvate decreases HIF-1α and glycolysis in macrophages as a mechanism of innate immune evasion http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1608221113