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Int Microbiol. 2004 Jun;7(2):83-94.

Recombinant viruses as tools to induce protective cellular immunity against infectious diseases.

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Laboratory of Immunopathology, René Rachou Research Center, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (FIOCRUZ), Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil.


Infections by intracellular pathogens such as viruses, some bacteria and many parasites, are cleared in most cases after activation of specific T cellular immune responses that recognize foreign antigens and eliminate infected cells. Vaccines against those infectious organisms have been traditionally developed by administration of whole live attenuated or inactivated microorganisms. Nowadays, research is focused on the development of subunit vaccines, containing the most immunogenic antigens from the particular pathogen. However, when purified subunit vaccines are administered using traditional immunization protocols, the levels of cellular immunity induced are mostly low and not capable of eliciting complete protection against diseases caused by intracellular microbes. In this review, we present a promising alternative to those traditional protocols, which is the use of recombinant viruses encoding subunit vaccines as immunization tools. Recombinant viruses have several interesting features that make them extremely efficient at inducing immune responses mediated by T-lymphocytes. This cellular immunity has recently been demonstrated to be of key importance for protection against malaria and AIDS, both of which are major targets of the World Health Organization for vaccine development. Thus, this review will focus in particular on the development of new vaccination protocols against these diseases.

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