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Vaccine. 2009 Dec 10;28(1):53-62. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2009.09.114. Epub 2009 Oct 8.

Recombinant Leishmania tarentolae expressing the A2 virulence gene as a novel candidate vaccine against visceral leishmaniasis.

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Molecular Immunology and Vaccine Research Laboratory, Pasteur Institute of Iran, Tehran, Iran.


Visceral leishmaniasis is the most severe form of leishmaniasis. To date, there is no effective vaccine against this disease. Many antigens have been examined so far as protein- or DNA-based vaccines, but none of them conferred complete long-term protection. The use of live attenuated vaccines has recently emerged as a promising vaccination strategy. In this study, we stably expressed the Leishmania donovani A2 antigen in Leishmania tarentolae, a non-pathogenic member of the genus Leishmania, and evaluated its protective efficacy as a live vaccine against L. infantum challenge. Our results show that a single intraperitoneal administration of the A2-recombinant L. tarentolae strain protects BALB/c mice against L. infantum challenge and that protective immunity is associated with high levels of IFN-gamma production prior and after challenge. This is accompanied by reduced levels of IL-5 production after challenge, leading to a potent Th1 immune response. In contrast, intravenous injection elicited a Th2 type response, characterized by higher levels of IL-5 and high humoral immune response, resulting in a less efficient protection. All together, these results indicate the promise of A2-expressing L. tarentolae as a safe live vaccine against visceral leishmaniasis.

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