Parasite DNA and Markers of Decreased Immune Activation Associate Prospectively with Cardiac Functional Decline over 10 Years among Trypanosoma cruzi Seropositive Individuals in Brazil


  • Sunderraj Ashwin
  • Cunha Luisa Marin
  • Avila Matheus
  • Alexandria Shaina
  • Ferreira Ariela Mota
  • de Oliveira-da Silva Léa Campos
  • Ribeiro Antonio
  • Nunes Maria Do Carmo Pereira
  • Sabino Ester
  • Landay Alan
  • Kalil Jorge
  • Chevillard Christophe
  • Cunha-Neto Edecio
  • Feinstein Matthew

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Parasitemia and inflammatory markers are cross-sectionally associated with chronic Chagas cardiomyopathy (CCC) among patients with Trypanosoma cruzi. However, the prospective association of the parasite load and host immune response-related characteristics with CCC (that is, progressors) among T. cruzi seropositive individuals has only been partially defined. In a cohort of T. cruzi seropositive patients in Montes Claros and São Paulo, Brazil who were followed over 10 years, we identified the association of a baseline T. cruzi parasite load and systemic markers of inflammation with a decline in cardiac function and/or the presence of cardiac congestion 10 years later. The progressors (n = 21) were individuals with a significant decline in the left ventricular ejection fraction and/or elevated markers of cardiac congestion after 10 years. The controls (n = 31) had normal markers of cardiac function and congestion at the baseline and at the follow-up. They were matched with the progressors on age, sex, and genetic ancestry. The progressors had higher mean parasite loads at the baseline than the controls (18.3 vs. 0.605 DNA parasite equivalents/20 mL, p < 0.05). Of the 384 inflammation-related proteins analyzed, 47 differed significantly at a false discovery rate- (FDR-) corrected p < 0.05 between the groups. There were 44 of these 47 proteins that were significantly higher in the controls compared to in the progressors, including the immune activation markers CCL21, CXCL12, and HCLS1 and several of the tumor necrosis factor superfamily of proteins. Among the individuals who were seropositive for T. cruzi at the baseline and who were followed over 10 years, those with incident CCC at the 10-year marker had a comparatively higher baseline of T. cruzi parasitemia and lower baseline markers of immune activation and chemotaxis. These findings generate the hypothesis that the early impairment of pathogen-killing immune responses predisposes individuals to CCC, which merits further study.

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