Autoimmune hepatitis is a disease characterized by a destruction of hepatocytes promoted by the immune system, causing inflammation and progressive loss of liver function. If untreated, the disease progresses, compromising the liver and generating extrahepatic damage. Although therapy with corticosteroids is able to control the symptoms, the treatment is often insufficient for complete remission. Knowing the biological activities of the compounds present in the saliva of hematophagous insects, and based on previous results from our group, we believe that the salivary components of Aedes aegypti mosquito can be employed to treat autoimmune diseases due to their capacity of influencing/modulating the immune responses. In order to investigate this possibility, a well-established model for the study of autoimmune hepatitis, acute experimental hepatitis (HEA) induced by concanavalin A (Con A), will be employed. In this model, a disease mediated by infiltration of CD4+ T lymphocytes, macrophages and NKT cells in the liver is induced, with the systemic production of a number of inflammatory cytokines. Preliminary data from our laboratory shows that the exposure of animals to A. aegypti mosquito bites prevents increased levels of aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT), enzymes related to the liver damage induced by Con A inoculation, suggesting an improvement of the clinical signs of the disease. The objective of this project is to evaluate the therapeutic potential of A. aegypti saliva in the HEA model induced by Con A and characterize the immune phenotype associated with this effect.
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