PLoS neglected tropical diseases

DNA-protein immunization using Leishmania peroxidoxin-1 induces a strong CD4+ T cell response and partially protects mice from cutaneous leishmaniasis: role of fusion murine granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor DNA adjuvant.

PMID 25500571


To date, no universally effective and safe vaccine has been developed for general human use. Leishmania donovani Peroxidoxin-1 (LdPxn-1) is a member of the antioxidant family of proteins and is predominantly expressed in the amastigote stage of the parasite. The aim of this study was to evaluate the immunogenicity and protective efficacy of LdPxn-1 in BALB/c mice in heterologous DNA-Protein immunization regimen in the presence of fusion murine granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (mGMCSF) DNA adjuvant. A fusion DNA of LdPxn1 and mGMCSF was cloned into a modified pcDNA vector. To confirm the expression in mammalian system, Chinese hamster ovary cells were transfected with the plasmid vector containing LdPxn1 gene. BALB/c mice were immunized twice with pcDNA-mGMCSF-LdPxn-1 or pcDNA-LdPxn1 DNA and boosted once with recombinant LdPxn-1 protein. Three weeks after the last immunization, mice were infected with Leishmania major promastigotes. The result showed that immunization with pcDNA-mGMCSF-LdPxn1 elicited a mixed Th-1/Th-2 immune response with significantly higher production of IFN-γ than controls. Intracellular cytokine staining of antigen-stimulated spleen cells showed that immunization with this antigen elicited significantly higher proportion of CD4+ T cells that express IFN-γ, TNF-α, or IL-2. The antigen also induced significantly higher proportion of multipotent CD4+ cells that simultaneously express the three Th-1 cytokines. Moreover, a significant reduction in the footpad swelling was seen in mice immunized with pcDNA-mGMCSF-LdPxn1 antigen. Expression study in CHO cells demonstrated that pcDNA-mGMCSF-LdPxn-1 was expressed in mammalian system. The result demonstrates that immunization of BALB/c mice with a plasmid expressing LdPxn1 in the presence of mGMCSF adjuvant elicits a strong specific immune response with high level induction of multipotent CD4+ cells that mediate protection of the mice from Leishmania major infection. To our knowledge, this is the first study showing the vaccine potential of Leishmania peroxidoxin -1.