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Eur J Immunol. 1998 Feb;28(2):525-31.

The induction of a protective response in Leishmania major-infected BALB/c mice with anti-CD40 mAb.

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Department of Immunobiology, DNAX Research Institute, Palo Alto, CA, USA.


A protective immune response to the intracellular parasite Leishmania major requires the development of a Th1 CD4+ T cell phenotype. We demonstrate herein that BALB/c mice, which normally develop a susceptible Th2 response to L. major infection, are protected when co-injected with an agonistic anti-murine CD40 mAb. Anti-CD40 mAb-mediated protection in this system was found to be T cell dependent, since it was not observed in C57BL/6 x 129 mice that were rendered T cell deficient (TCR beta-/- x TCR delta-/-) and L. major susceptible. Anti-CD40 mAb stimulation of L. major-infected BALB/c mice was accompanied by increased IL-12 and IFN-gamma production in draining lymph nodes, analyzed either by direct expression, or in an antigen-specific in vitro recall assay. The protective role of these cytokines was indicated by the finding that anti-CD40 mAb-mediated protection of L. major-infected BALB/c mice could be reversed by co-treating the animals with neutralizing anti-IL-12 and/or anti-IFN-gamma mAb. Collectively, these data suggest that BALB/c mice develop a protective Th1 CD4+ T cell response to L. major infection when co-injected with anti-CD40 mAb. While the CD40-CD40L interaction has been previously shown to be vital in the control of murine Leishmaniasis, the current study establishes in vivo that anti-CD40 mAb treatment alone is sufficient to protect BALB/c mice from L. major infection and raises the possibility of utilizing this approach for vaccination strategies.

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