Evaluation of the protection conferred by a naturally attenuated Neospora caninum isolate against congenital and cerebral neosporosis in mice
1 SALUVET, Animal Health Department, Faculty of Veterinary Sciences, Complutense University of Madrid, Ciudad Universitaria s/n, Madrid, 28040, Spain
2 HIPRA, Avda de La Selva s/n, Amer, 17170, Spain
Veterinary Research 2012, 43:62 doi:10.1186/1297-9716-43-62Published: 22 August 2012
The parasite Neospora caninum is an important abortifacient agent in cattle worldwide. At present, the development of an effective and safe vaccine against bovine neosporosis is of great relevance. Recently, a new isolate of N. caninum (Nc-Spain 1 H) which was obtained from the brain of an asymptomatic congenitally infected calf, exhibited non-virulent behaviour in mouse and bovine infection models. The aim of this study was to determine the safety and efficacy of Nc-Spain 1 H when used as a vaccinal isolate in well-established BALB/c models of congenital and cerebral neosporosis. Mice were subcutaneously immunised twice at 3-week intervals and were challenged with 2 × 106 tachyzoites of the virulent Nc-Liv isolate. After immunisation with live Nc-Spain 1 H tachyzoites, no parasitic DNA was detected in the dams’ brains before challenge and microsatellite analysis performed in PCR-positive mice showed that the profiles corresponded to the challenge isolate Nc-Liv, indicating the Nc-Spain 1 H isolate to be a safe vaccine candidate. The efficacy of the live vaccine was evaluated in the first experiment after the immunisation of mice with 5 × 105 live Nc-Spain 1 H tachyzoites. This immunisation protocol significantly reduced the neonatal mortality to 2.4%, reduced the vertical transmission from 89.1% to 2.3% and completely limited the cerebral infection. These results were associated with a Th1-type immune response. In the second experiment, the effect of various immunising doses was established using ten-fold dilutions of the tachyzoites (from 5 × 105 to 5 × 10). In all the cases, congenital protection rates above 60% were observed, and the mice that were immunised with the lowest dose (5 × 10) presented the highest protection rate (86%). Moreover, low immunising doses of Nc-Spain 1 H induced an IgG2a response, and high parasitic doses induced an IgG1 response. These results evidence the safety and the efficient protection that was conferred by Nc-Spain 1 H against congenital neosporosis, even when the mice were immunised with low parasitic doses.