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Parasitology. 2013 Apr;140(4):435-44. doi: 10.1017/S0031182012001850. Epub 2012 Dec 20.

Unresponsiveness of Mycobacterium w vaccine in managing acute and chronic Leishmania donovani infections in mouse and hamster.

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  • 1Division of Parasitology, CSIR-Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow-226001, Uttar Pradesh, India.


The role of Mycobacterium w (Mw) vaccine as an immunomodulator and immunoprophylactant in the treatment of mycobacterial diseases (leprosy and pulmonary tuberculosis) is well established. The fact that it shares common antigens with leishmanial parasites prompted its assessment as an immunostimulant and as an adjunct to known anti-leishmanials that may help in stimulating the suppressed immune status of Leishmania donovani-infected individuals. The efficacy of Mw vaccine was assessed as an immunomodulator, prophylactically either alone or in combination with anti-leishmanial vaccine, as well as therapeutically as an adjunct to anti-leishmanial treatment in L. donovani-infected hamsters, representing a chronic human Visceral Leishmaniasis (VL) model. Similarly, its efficacy was also evaluated in L. donovani-infected BALB/c mice, representing an acute VL model. The preliminary studies revealed that Mw was ineffective as an immunostimulant and/or immunoprophylactant in hamsters infected with L. donovani, as estimated by T-cell immunological responses. However, in the BALB/c mice-VL model it appeared as an effective immunostimulant but a futile prophylactic agent. It is therefore inferred that, contrary to its role in managing tuberculosis and leprosy infections, Mw vaccine has not been successful in controlling VL infection, emphasizing the need to find detailed explanations for the failure of this vaccine against the disease.

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