Leptospira interrogans induces apoptosis in macrophages Via-caspase-8- and Caspase-3-dependent pathways

Dandan Jin, David M. Ojcius, Dexter Sun, Haiyan Dong, Yihui Luo, Yafei Mao, Jie Yan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

92 Scopus citations


Apoptosis of host cells plays an important role in modulating the pathogenesis of many infectious diseases. It has been reported that Leptospira interrogans, the causal agent of leptospirosis, induces apoptosis in macrophages and hepatocytes. However, the molecular mechanisms responsible for host cell death remained largely unknown. Here we demonstrate that L. interrogans induced apoptosis in a macrophage-like cell line, J774A.1, and primary murine macrophages in a time- and dose-dependent manner. Apoptosis was associated with the activation of cysteine aspartic acid-specific proteases (caspase-3, caspase-6, and caspase-8), the increased expression of Fas-associated death domain (FADD), and the cleavage of the caspase substrates poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) and nuclear lamina protein (lamin A and lamin C). Caspase-9 was activated to a lesser extent, whereas no release of cytochrome c from mitochondria was detectable. Inhibition of caspase-8 impaired L. interrogans-induced caspase-3 and -6 activation, as well as PARP and lamin A/C cleavage and apoptosis, suggesting that apoptosis is initiated via caspase-8 activation. Furthermore, caspase-3 was required for the activation of caspase-6 and seemed to be involved in caspase-9 activation through a feedback amplification loop. These data indicate that L. interrogans-induced apoptosis in macrophages is mediated by caspase-3 and -6 activation through a FADD-caspase-8-dependent pathway, independently of mitochondrial cytochrome c-caspase-9-dependent signaling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)799-809
Number of pages11
JournalInfection and Immunity
Issue number2
StatePublished - 02 2009
Externally publishedYes


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