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FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol. 1998 Mar;20(3):209-18.

The Leishmania promastigote surface antigen-2 (PSA-2) is specifically recognised by Th1 cells in humans with naturally acquired immunity to L. major.

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Center for Medical Parasitology, Department of Clinical Microbiology, University Hospital (Rigshospitalet), University of Copenhagen, Denmark.


The promastigote surface antigen-2 (PSA-2) is a Leishmania parasite antigen, which can induce Th1-mediated protection against murine leishmaniasis when used as a vaccine. To evaluate PSA-2 as a human vaccine candidate the specific T-cell response to PSA-2 was characterised in individuals immune to cutaneous leishmaniasis. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells from Sudanese individuals with a past history of self-healing cutaneous leishmaniasis proliferated vigorously in response to PSA-2 isolated from Leishmania major, whereas the antigen did not activate cells from presumably unexposed Danes. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells from individuals with previous L. major infection had varying proliferative responses to PSA-2 derived from L. donovani promastigotes. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells activated by PSA-2 from L. major produced high amounts of interferon-gamma and tumour necrosis factor-beta, and little interleukin-4, thereby showing a Th1 cytokine pattern. Parallel cultures showed clear Th1 and Th2 response patterns to purified protein derivative of tuberculin or tetanus toxoid, respectively. Flow cytometric analysis revealed that PSA-2 induced blastogenesis in the CD3 positive population and that these cells were the major source of interferon-gamma. The results show that Th1-like cells recognising PSA-2 are expanded during infection by L. major and that they maintain their Th1-like cytokine profile upon reactivation in vitro. Since immunity to cutaneous leishmaniasis is mediated by antigen-specific Th1-like cells, PSA-2 might be considered a vaccine candidate for human leishmaniasis.

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