Recombinant small glutamine-rich tetratricopeptide repeat-containing protein of Leishmania infantum: Potential vaccine and diagnostic application against visceral leishmaniasis

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Different Leishmania proteins have been evaluated in order to find a potential vaccine candidate or diagnostic marker capable of providing long lasting protection against infection or helping to identify infected mammalian hosts, respectively. However, just few molecules have fulfilled all the requirements to be evaluated. In the current study, we evaluated the prophylactic and diagnostic value against visceral leishmaniasis (VL) of a small glutamine-rich tetratricopeptide repeat-containing (SGT) protein from Leishmania infantum species. In a first step, the immune response elicited by the immunization using the recombinant protein (rSGT) plus saponin was evaluated in BALB/c mice. Immunized animals had a low parasitism in all evaluated organs. They developed a specific Th1 immune response, which was based on protein-specific production of IFN-γ, IL-12 and GM-CSF, and a humoral response dominated by antibodies of the IgG2a isotype. Both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells contributed to the IFN-γ production, showing that both T cell subtypes contribute to the resistance against infection. Regarding its value as a diagnostic marker, rSGT showed maximum sensitivity and specificity to serologically identify L. infantum-infected dog and human sera. No cross-reactivity with sera from humans or dogs that had other diseases was found. Although further studies are necessary to validate these findings, data showed here suggest immunogenicity of rSGT and its protective effect against murine VL, as well as its potential for the serodiagnosis of human and canine VL.

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