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Vaccine. 2006 Jan 16;24(3):229-35. Epub 2005 Sep 8.

Immunization with DNA vaccines encoding different mycobacterial antigens elicits a Th1 type immune response in lambs and protects against Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis infection.

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Dipartimento di Scienze Biomediche, Sezione Microbiologia sperimentale e clinica, Facoltà di Medicina, viale S. Pietro 43 b, 07100 Sassari, Italy.


Paratuberculosis, or Johne's disease, is a disease of domestic and wild ruminants that culminate with a chronic enteritis caused by Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis. The aim of this work was to evaluate the type of immune response, Th1 or Th2, induced by DNA vaccinations in lambs of Sarda breed. Twenty-five lambs, serum negative for M. paratuberculosis, were selected at birth from equally serum negative mothers. The lambs were inoculated at 5 months of age with three different mycobacterial antigens cloned into a mammalian expression vector as fusion protein with the enhanced green fluorescent protein (pEGFP-N1). The animals were divided in five groups containing each five lambs. Each group was vaccinated as following (A: physiological solution; B: Gudair; C: p-85A-Mav; D: p-85A-BCG; E: p-Hsp65). Immune response was evaluated by measuring the expression of INF-gamma (Th1 type response) and IL-10 (Th2 type response) by real-time PCR. Gene expression was estimated by comparing the results with that of beta-actin. INF-gamma expression level was increased in lambs vaccinated with plasmids codifying mycobacterial antigens, in particular with p-Hsp65, in comparison with the controls suggesting stimulation of a Th1 immune response similar to that supported by natural infection of M. paratuberculosis. Moreover, animals were infected orally with live M. paratuberculosis. Three months after vaccination and again INF-gamma and IL-10 expression was evaluated in order to verify in vivo the protection level of the vaccines. Plasmids p-85A-BCG and p-Hsp65 seem to elicit a stronger protective immune response against M. paratuberculosis by evaluating the expression level of INF-gamma and evaluating the presence of M. paratuberculosis and animal cell organ damage post-mortem.

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