Evaluation of the adjuvant effect of agonists of toll-like receptor 4 and 7/8 in a vaccine against leishmaniasis in BALB/c mice

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There is no effective vaccine against human leishmaniasis. Achieving successful vaccines seems to need powerful adjuvants. Separate or combined use of toll like receptor (TLR) agonists as adjuvant is a promising approach in Leishmania vaccine research. In present study, we evaluated adjuvant effect of separate or combined use of a TLR7/8 agonist, R848 and a TLR4 agonist, monophosphoryl lipid A (MPL) beside soluble Leishmania antigen (SLA) in BALB/c mice. Mice were vaccinated three times by SLA with separate or combined TLR7/8 and TLR4 agonists and were then challenged by Leishmania major. Delay type hypersensitivity, lesion development, parasite load, and cytokines (interferon gamma, and interleukin-10) response were assessed. Results showed: 1) MPL can slightly assist SLA in parasite load reduction, but it is not able to increase SLA ability in evoking DTH and cytokine responses or decreasing lesion diameter. 2) R848 does not affect the DTH response and parasite load of mice vaccinated with SLA, but it decreases/inhibits cytokine responses induced by SLA, leading to increase lesion diameter. 3) MPL neutralized inhibitory effect of R848. In overall, these data emphasize that MPL slightly assists SLA to make a more potent vaccine, but R848 is not a good adjuvant to induce T cell-dependent immune response in BALB/c mice, and therefore combination of these TLR agonists in the current formulation, is not recommended for making a more powerful adjuvant.

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