Prophylactic properties of aLeishmania-specific hypothetical protein in a murine model of visceral leishmaniasis

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In this work, the effect of vaccination of a newly described Leishmania infantum antigenic protein has been studied in BALB/c mice infected with this parasite species. The LiHyD protein was characterized after a proteomic screening performed with the sera from dogs suffering visceral leishmaniasis (VL). Its recombinant version was expressed, purified and administered to BALB/c mice in combination with saponin. As a result of vaccination and 10 weeks after challenge using an infective dose of L. infantum stationary promastigotes, vaccinated mice showed lower parasite burdens in different organs (liver, spleen, bone marrow and footpads' draining lymph nodes) than mice inoculated with the adjuvant alone or the vaccine diluent. Protected mice showed anti-Leishmania IgG2a antibodies and a predominant IL-12-driven IFN-γ production (mainly produced by CD4+ T cells) against parasite proteins, whereas unprotected controls showed anti-Leishmania IgG1 antibodies and parasite-mediated IL-4 and IL-10 responses. Vaccinated mice showed an anti-LiHyD IgG2a humoral response, and their spleen cells were able to secrete LiHyD-specific IFN-γ, IL-12 and GM-CSF cytokines before and after infection. The protection was correlated with the Leishmania-specific production on nitric oxide. Altogether, the results indicate that the new LiHyD protein could be considered in vaccine formulations against VL.

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