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Methods Mol Med. 2006;127:239-51.

Immunological responses of neonates and infants to DNA vaccines.

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  • 1Malaria Program, Naval Medical Research Center, Silver Spring, MD, USA.


In some parts of sub-Saharan Africa, it is believed that most of the deaths attributed to malaria occur in infants. For this and other logistical reasons, if a malaria vaccine is developed and licensed, it will have to be administered to neonates or young infants, when they have maternally acquired antibodies against malaria parasite proteins. Pre-erythrocytic malaria vaccines in development rely on CD8(+) T cells as immune effectors, yet some studies indicate that neonates do not mount optimal CD8+ T-cell responses. We report that BALB/c mice first immunized as neonates (7 d) with a Plasmodium yoelii circumsporozoite protein (PyCSP) DNA vaccine mixed with a plasmid expressing murine granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor (DG) and boosted at 28 d with pox virus expressing PyCSP were protected (93%) as well as mice immunized entirely as adults (70%). Like adults, protection was dependent on CD8(+) T cells and accompanied by excellent anti-PyCSP interferon-gamma and cytotoxic T-lymphocyte responses. Mice born of immune mothers (previously exposed to P. yoelii parasites or immunized with the same vaccine given to the neonates) were also protected and had excellent T-cell responses. These data support assessment of this immunization strategy in neonates/young infants in areas where malaria exacts the greatest toll.

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