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Infect Immun. 2009 Oct;77(10):4383-95. doi: 10.1128/IAI.01459-08. Epub 2009 Aug 3.

Perforin and gamma interferon expression are required for CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell-dependent protective immunity against a human parasite, Trypanosoma cruzi, elicited by heterologous plasmid DNA prime-recombinant adenovirus 5 boost vaccination.

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Centro Interdisciplinar de Terapia Gênica (CINTERGEN), Universidade Federal de São Paulo-Escola Paulista de Medicina, Rua Mirassol 207, São Paulo, SP 04044-010, Brazil.


A heterologous prime-boost strategy using plasmid DNA, followed by replication-defective recombinant adenovirus 5, is being proposed as a powerful way to elicit CD4(+) and CD8(+) T-cell-mediated protective immunity against intracellular pathogens. We confirmed this concept and furthered existing research by providing evidence that the heterologous prime-boost regimen using the gene encoding amastigote surface protein 2 elicited CD4(+) and CD8(+) T-cell-mediated protective immunity (reduction of acute parasitemia and prolonged survival) against experimental infection with Trypanosoma cruzi. Protective immunity correlated with the presence of in vivo antigen-specific cytotoxic activity prior to challenge. Based on this, our second goal was to determine the outcome of infection after heterologous prime-boost immunization of perforin-deficient mice. These mice were highly susceptible to infection. A detailed analysis of the cell-mediated immune responses in immunized perforin-deficient mice showed an impaired gamma interferon (IFN-gamma) secretion by immune spleen cells upon restimulation in vitro with soluble recombinant antigen. In spite of a normal numeric expansion, specific CD8(+) T cells presented several functional defects detected in vivo (cytotoxicity) and in vitro (simultaneous expression of CD107a/IFN-gamma or IFN-gamma/tumor necrosis factor alpha) paralleled by a decreased expression of CD44 and KLRG-1. Our final goal was to determine the importance of IFN-gamma in the presence of highly cytotoxic T cells. Vaccinated IFN-gamma-deficient mice developed highly cytotoxic cells but failed to develop any protective immunity. Our study thus demonstrated a role for perforin and IFN-gamma in a number of T-cell-mediated effector functions and in the antiparasitic immunity generated by a heterologous plasmid DNA prime-adenovirus boost vaccination strategy.

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