The interaction of leishmania parasites with macrophages is known to be receptor mediated. Previous study from this laboratory (J. Parasitol. 82:632, 1996) showed the significant involvement of LPG and gp63 receptors in the recognition of virulent strains onto the macrophages. The role of carbohydrate receptors–the other major receptors besides LPG and gp63 receptors, in the recognition of both virulent (strains AG83 and GE1) and avirulent (strain UR6) leishmania onto the host macrophages has been the major focus of the present investigation. Various neoglycoproteins were used as efficient ligands to preblock the carbohydrate receptors on the macrophage surface. Similarly, various sugar specific lectins were used to preblock the corresponding carbohydrate ligands on the parasite surface. When these preblocked macrophages or parasites were used to study their mode of recognition, it was obvious from the findings that avirulent leishmania promastigotes possibly use the mannosyl fucosyl receptors (MFR) more avidly for their initial attachment and subsequent internalization into the macrophages whereas the virulent leishmania exhibits limited use of this receptor. When a macrophage-like cell line (J774), lacking in MFR, was purposely selected to test the previous findings, as expected, the attachment of avirulent promastigotes (UR6) onto the cell line was found to be negligible when compared to the peritoneal macrophages. Thus, it appears that avirulent leishmania promastigotes probably utilize MFR significantly for their initial recognition and subsequent internalization by macrophages.

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