Type I Interferons Suppress Anti-parasitic Immunity and Can Be Targeted to Improve Treatment of Visceral Leishmaniasis.
Type I interferons (IFNs) play critical roles in anti-viral and anti-tumor immunity. However, they also suppress protective immune responses in some infectious diseases. Here, we identify type I IFNs as major upstream regulators of CD4 T cells from visceral leishmaniasis (VL) patients. Furthermore, we report that mice deficient in type I IFN signaling have significantly improved control of Leishmania donovani, a causative agent of human VL, associated with enhanced IFNγ but reduced IL-10 production by parasite-specific CD4 T cells. Importantly, we identify a small-molecule inhibitor that can be used to block type I IFN signaling during established infection and acts synergistically with conventional anti-parasitic drugs to improve parasite clearance and enhance anti-parasitic CD4 T cell responses in mice and humans. Thus, manipulation of type I IFN signaling is a promising strategy for improving disease outcome in VL patients.