Vaccination with a CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell epitopes-based recombinant chimeric protein derived fromLeishmania infantumproteins confers protective immunity against visceral leishmaniasis

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Vaccination seems to be the best approach to control visceral leishmaniasis (VL). Resistance against infection is based on the development of a Th1 immune response characterized by the production of interferons-γ (IFN-γ), interleukin-12 (IL-12), granulocyte-macrophage-colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), among others. A number of antigens have been tested as potential targets against the disease; few of them are able to stimulate human immune cells. In the present study, 1 prediction of MHC class I and II molecules-specific epitopes in the amino acid sequences of 3 Leishmania proteins: 1 hypothetical, prohibitin, and small glutamine-rich tetratricopeptide repeat-containing proteins, was performed using bioinformatics tools, and a T-cell epitopes-based recombinant chimeric protein was constructed, synthetized and purified to be evaluated in invitro and in vivo experiments. The purified protein was tested regarding its immunogenicity in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from healthy subjects and VL patients, as well as to its immunogenicity and protective efficacy in a murine model against Leishmania infantum infection. Results showed a Th1 response based on high IFN-γ and low IL-10 levels derived from in chimera-stimulated PBMCs in both healthy subjects and VL patients. In addition, chimera and/or saponin-immunized mice presented significantly lower parasite burden in distinct evaluated organs, when compared to the controls, besides higher levels of IFN-γ, IL-2, IL-12, and GM-CSF, and an IgG2a isotype-based humoral response. In addition, the CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell subtypes contributed to IFN-γ production in the protected animals. The results showed the immunogenicity in human cells and the protective efficacy against L. infantum in a murine model, and well indicate that this recombinant chimera can be considered as a promising strategy to be used against human disease.

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