A single intradermal administration of soluble leishmanial antigen and plasmid expressing interleukin-12 protects BALB/c mice from Leishmania major infection

K Yamakami, S Akao, M Sato, Y Nitta, J Miyazaki, T Tadakuma
Parasitology International 2001, 50 (2): 81-91
In murine leishmaniasis, the induction of the T-helper type 1 (Th1) response contributes to infection resistance, whereas the establishment of the Th2 response makes the mice susceptible to infection. Interleukin-12 (IL-12) plays a pivotal role in the diversification of immune responses to the Th1 type. In this study, we tested whether the co-administration of IL-12 expression plasmid which compose p35 and p40 subunits and soluble leishmanial antigen (SLA) will skew the susceptible BALB/c mice to Th1 response and protect from leishmaniasis. When the mice were intradermally injected with the combination of IL-12 plasmid and SLA 7 days prior to the challenge with 1x10(6) promastigotes of Leishmania major, the local lesions completely healed and the parasite burden in the local lymph nodes significantly decreased. The cured mice attained long-term immunity, and were resistant to any subsequent rechallenge of the lethal dose of the parasite. The protective effect was associated with the development of a Th1 response, as demonstrated by the enhanced level of antigen-specific interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) and dominant production of IgG2a in the serum. In contrast, the administration of empty plasmid plus SLA or IL-12 plasmid alone failed to protect the disease and shape the Th1 response. Furthermore, the protective efficiency induced by the vaccination was clearly prevented by the injection of either neutralizing anti-IL-12 mAb or anti-IFN-gamma mAb. The IL-12 expression plasmid is thus an effective adjuvant for the elicitation of a protective Th1 response against leishmaniasis and is therefore, considered to be appropriate for vaccinations that require the induction of Th1 type immunity.

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