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J Immunol. 2000 Aug 15;165(4):2084-92.

Recombinant attenuated Toxoplasma gondii expressing the Plasmodium yoelii circumsporozoite protein provides highly effective priming for CD8+ T cell-dependent protective immunity against malaria.

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  • 1Immunobiology Section, Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


The protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii elicits strong cell-mediated immunity against itself as well as nonspecific resistance against other pathogens and tumors. For this reason, we asked whether recombinant Toxoplasma could be utilized as an effective vaccine vehicle for inducing immunity against heterologous microbial infections. The circumsporozoite protein (PyCSP) of Plasmodium yoelii was engineered into a T. gondii temperature-sensitive strain (ts-4), a mutant that induces complete protection against virulent Toxoplasma challenge. When administered to mice in a single dose, a recombinant ts-4 (CSC3) that both secretes and expresses surface PyCSP induced strong anti-CSP Ab responses, with an isotype distribution pattern similar to that stimulated by the T. gondii carrier. When challenged with P. yoelii sporozoites during the first month after CSC3 vaccination, these animals displayed substantial levels of nonspecific resistance attributable entirely to the T. gondii carrier. Nevertheless, after the nonspecific protection had waned, high levels (up to 79%) of specific immunity against sporozoite challenge were achieved by boosting the animals with recombinant vaccinia virus expressing PyCSP. These CSC3-primed PyCSP-vaccinia-boosted mice displayed high frequencies of splenic PyCSP-specific IFN-gamma-producing cells, as well as CD8+ T cell-dependent cytolytic activity. In vivo depletion of CD8+ lymphocytes at the time of challenge completely ablated protective immunity in the T. gondii-primed/vaccinia-boosted animals, while neutralization of IFN-gamma or IL-12 caused a partial but significant reduction in resistance. Together these findings establish the efficacy of recombinant attenuated Toxoplasma as a vaccine vehicle for priming CD8+-dependent cell-mediated immunity.

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