The purpose of this study was to determine whether activating the conjunctival macrophages would affect the course of Acanthamoeba spp. keratitis in a Chinese hamster model of this disease. Chinese hamster spleen cells were stimulated with concanavalin A (Con A), and interferon gamma (IFN-γ) –containing supernatants were collected 24 hr later. The IFN-γ–containing supernatants were loaded into liposomes, which were fed to peritoneal macrophages in vitro. Macrophage activation was assessed by testing for production of nitric oxide (NO) with the use of Griess reagent. Conjunctival macrophages were activated in situ by subconjunctival injection of liposomes containing Con A–activated spleen cell culture supernatants. Control liposomes were loaded with phosphate-buffered saline (PBS). Macrophages exposed to supernatants from Con A–stimulated spleen cells produced 4-fold-higher amounts of NO than unstimulated macrophages. Activation of macrophages via subconjunctival injection of liposomes containing supernatants from Con A–stimulated spleen cell cultures resulted in rapid resolution of the corneal infection. Approximately 80% of animals treated with PBS-containing liposomes demonstrated evidence of corneal disease at day 14 compared to 10% incidence of infection in the Con A–treated group. Moreover, at all time points examined, the clinical appearance of the keratitis in animals treated with liposomes containing Con A supernatant was significantly reduced compared to the group treated with liposomes containing PBS (P < 0.05). Macrophages stimulated with IFN-γ–containing supernatants killed significant numbers of the trophozoites in vitro (P < 0.05). Killing was inhibited by cytochalasin d, but not by l-N6-1-iminoethyl-l-lysine dihydrochloride (l-NIL), which is a selective inhibitor of inducible NO synthase (INOS).
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