Open Access Research

Mitigating an undesirable immune response of inherent susceptibility to cutaneous leishmaniosis in a mouse model: the role of the pathoantigenic HISA70 DNA vaccine

Gustavo Domínguez-Bernal1, Pilar Horcajo1, José A Orden1, Ricardo De La Fuente1, Aldara Herrero-Gil1, Lara Ordóñez-Gutiérrez2 and Javier Carrión1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Animal Health, Veterinary Faculty, Complutense University of Madrid, 28040, Madrid, Spain

2 “Severo Ochoa” Molecular Biology Centre CSIC-UAM, 28049, Madrid, Spain

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Veterinary Research 2012, 43:59  doi:10.1186/1297-9716-43-59

Published: 9 August 2012

Abstract

Leishmania major is the major cause of cutaneous leishmaniosis (CL) outside of the Americas. In the present study we have cloned six Leishmania genes (H2A, H2B, H3, H4, A2 and HSP70) into the eukaryotic expression vector pCMVβ-m2a, resulting in pCMV-HISA70m2A, which encodes all six pathoantigenic proteins as a single polyprotein. This expression plasmid has been evaluated as a novel vaccine candidate in the BALB/c mouse model of CL. The DNA vaccine shifted the immune response normally induced by L. major infection away from a Th2-specific pathway to one of basal susceptibility. Immunization with pCMV-HISA70m2A dramatically reduced footpad lesions and lymph node parasite burdens relative to infected control mice. Complete absence of visceral parasite burden was observed in all 12 immunized animals but not in any of the 24 control mice. Moreover, vaccinated mice produced large amounts of IFN-γ, IL-17 and NO at 7 weeks post-infection (pi), and they showed lower arginase activity at the site of infection, lower IL-4 production and a weaker humoral immune response than infected control mice. Taken together, these results demonstrate the ability of the HISA70 vaccine to shift the murine immune response to L. major infection away from an undesirable, Th2-specific pathway to a less susceptible-like pathway involving Th1 and Th17 cytokine profiles.