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Parasite Immunol. 1999 Sep;21(9):461-73.

Vaccination against Leishmania major in a CBA mouse model of infection: role of adjuvants and mechanism of protection.

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Institute of Biochemistry, University of Lausanne, Ch. des Boveresses, CH 1066 Epalinges, Switzerland.


Gp63 is a major surface protein of Leishmania promastigotes. Its protective efficacy has been tested in several experimental models using different mouse strains, gp63 forms, adjuvants and routes of immunization, giving rise to conflicting results. This investigation was designed to determine whether these discrepancies could be ascribed to differing experimental procedures, and to compare gp63-induced protection with that achieved using live promastigotes. Preliminary experiments demonstrated that gp63 was an extremely potent immunogen compared to a standard antigen (ovalbumin). Protection against Leishmania major infection afforded by gp63 inoculation was studied in CBA mice. Injection of gp63 in saline, or of CFA, BCG, and C. parvum without antigen, induced significant protection. When gp63 and adjuvants were combined, results differed depending on the site of vaccination relative to that of the challenge infection. Vaccination with gp63 plus adjuvants in the tail (i.e. close to the site of infection) led to a stronger reduction of lesion size than the basal level of protection elicited by adjuvants alone, except in the case of CFA. Surprisingly however, when the antigen was injected at a distance from the site of infection (immunization in the hind foot pads, infection in the rump), the protective effect of gp63 was decreased by the adjuvants. Finally, vaccination at either site using live parasites (radioattenuated or virulent promastigotes) resulted in most instances in better protection than achieved by any protocol using gp63 and adjuvants. While anti-gp63 T cells proliferated in vitro in response to L. major-infected bone marrow-derived macrophages, they were unable to activate macrophages for parasite killing. This is in contrast with lymphocytes from mice immunized with live parasites, which both proliferated and stimulated significant killing of the microorganisms within 48 h.

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