Occurrence of foamy macrophages during the innate response of zebrafish to trypanosome infections

Jacobs, Sem H.; Dóró, Eva; Hammond, Ffion R.; Nguyen-Chi, Mai E.; Lutfalla, Georges; Wiegertjes, Geert F.; Forlenza, Maria


A tightly regulated innate immune response to trypanosome infections is critical to strike a balance between parasite control and inflammation-associated pathology. In this study, we make use of the recently established Trypanosoma carassii infection model in larval zebrafish to study the early response of macrophages and neutrophils to trypanosome infections in vivo. We consistently identified high-and low-infected individuals and were able to simultaneously characterise their differential innate response. Not only did macrophage and neutrophil number and distribution differ between the two groups, but also macrophage morphology and activation state. Exclusive to high-infected zebrafish, was the occurrence of foamy macrophages characterised by a strong pro-inflammatory profile and potentially associated with an exacerbated immune response as well as susceptibility to the infection. To our knowledge, this is the first report of the occurrence of foamy macrophages during an extracellular trypanosome infection.