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Infect Immun. 2013 Oct;81(10):3709-20. doi: 10.1128/IAI.00180-13. Epub 2013 Jul 29.

Inducing humoral and cellular responses to multiple sporozoite and liver-stage malaria antigens using exogenous plasmid DNA.

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  • 1University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.


A vaccine candidate that elicits humoral and cellular responses to multiple sporozoite and liver-stage antigens may be able to confer protection against Plasmodium falciparum malaria; however, a technology for formulating and delivering such a vaccine has remained elusive. Here, we report the preclinical assessment of an optimized DNA vaccine approach that targets four P. falciparum antigens: circumsporozoite protein (CSP), liver stage antigen 1 (LSA1), thrombospondin-related anonymous protein (TRAP), and cell-traversal protein for ookinetes and sporozoites (CelTOS). Synthetic DNA sequences were designed for each antigen with modifications to improve expression and were delivered using in vivo electroporation (EP). Immunogenicity was evaluated in mice and nonhuman primates (NHPs) and assessed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), gamma interferon (IFN-γ) enzyme-linked immunosorbent spot (ELISpot) assay, and flow cytometry. In mice, DNA with EP delivery induced antigen-specific IFN-γ production, as measured by ELISpot assay and IgG seroconversion against all antigens. Sustained production of IFN-γ, interleukin-2, and tumor necrosis factor alpha was elicited in both the CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cell compartments. Furthermore, hepatic CD8(+) lymphocytes produced LSA1-specific IFN-γ. The immune responses conferred to mice by this approach translated to the NHP model, which showed cellular responses by ELISpot assay and intracellular cytokine staining. Notably, antigen-specific CD8(+) granzyme B(+) T cells were observed in NHPs. Collectively, the data demonstrate that delivery of gene sequences by DNA/EP encoding malaria parasite antigens is immunogenic in animal models and can harness both the humoral and cellular arms of the immune system.

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