Vaccination with a plasmid DNA cocktail encoding the nucleosomal histones of Leishmania confers protection against murine cutaneous leishmaniosis

Salvador Iborra, Manuel Soto, Javier Carrión, Carlos Alonso, Jose M Requena
Vaccine 2004 September 28, 22 (29): 3865-76
Leishmania histones are relevant immunogens for the host immune system during both Leishmania infection and disease. In the present paper we have evaluated the prophylactic value of the four Leishmania infantum histones forming the nucleosomal core in the murine model of cutaneous leishmaniasis. In a first stage, the immune response elicited by the intramuscular injection of a mixture of four plasmid DNAs, encoding the L. infantum histones H2A, H2B, H3 and H4, was determined in BALB/c mice. It was found that the immunized animals developed a specific Th1 immune response, which was associated with an antigen-specific production of interferon (IFN-gamma) and a limited humoral response against histones (dominated by antibodies of the IgG2a isotype). According to the pure Th1-type immune response elicited by the DNA vaccination with Leishmania histones, vaccinated mice showed a solid immunity that efficiently controlled the Leishmania major infection. The protection in mice vaccinated with histone-DNAs was associated with a low humoral response against leishmanial antigens, an enhanced IFN-gamma production and little, if any, IL-4 production. The relative contribution of both CD8(+) and CD4(+) T cells to the IFN-gamma production, and the IL-12 dependence were also evaluated. All these data indicated that DNA vaccination with Leishmania histones genes results in a specific Th1-like response during L. major infection, and that both CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells contribute to the resistance of vaccinated mice to cutaneous leishmaniasis.

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