Mouse peritoneal macrophages activated by different immunomodulators (Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guérin or Propionibacterium acnes) destroy Naegleria fowleri amoebae by a contact-dependent process and by soluble cytolytic molecules secreted by macrophages in response to lipopolysaccharide. The goal of this study was to determine whether the arginine-dependent cytolytic mechanism which results in the production of nitric oxide from arginine by activated macrophages destroys the amoebae. Amoebicidal activity of activated macrophages was determined by coculturing macrophages with N. fowleri amoebae radiolabeled with 3H-uridine. The percent specific release of radiolabel was used as an index of cytolysis of the amoebae. The inhibitors NG-monomethyl-L-arginine and arginase were used to determine whether the arginine pathway was a major effector mechanism responsible for amoebicidal activity of activated macrophages. Both the arginine analog NG-monomethyl-L-arginine and arginase, which breaks down arginine, decreased macrophage amoebicidal activity. Addition of arginine to arginine-free medium restores amoebicidal activity to activated macrophage cultures. These results demonstrate that the arginine pathway is an important mechanism for the destruction of susceptible N. fowleri amoebae
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