A new multi-epitope peptide vaccine induces immune responses and protection against Leishmania infantum in BALB/c mice
Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is a tropical and subtropical disease which is endemic in more than eighty countries around the world. Leishmania infantum is one of the main causative agents of VL disease. Currently, there is no approved-to-market vaccine for VL therapy. In this study, we evaluated cellular and humoral immune responses induced by our newly designed multi-epitope vaccine in BALB/c mice. Four antigenic proteins, including histone H1, sterol 24-c-methyltransferase (SMT), Leishmania-specific hypothetical protein (LiHy), and Leishmania-specific antigenic protein (LSAP) were chosen for the prediction of potential immunodominant epitopes. Moreover, to enhance vaccine immunogenicity, two toll-like receptors 4 (TLR4) agonists, resuscitation-promoting factors of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (RpfE and RpfB), were employed as the built-in adjuvants. Immunization with the designed multi-epitope vaccine elicited a robust Th1-type immune response, compared to other groups, as shown by increased levels of IL-2, IFN-γ, TNF-α, and IgG2a. Furthermore, a significant decrease was observed in Th-2-type-related cytokines such as IL-4 in immunized mice. The designed construct also induced a significant reduction in parasite load (p < 0.0001), conferring protection against L. infantum challenge. This study could be promising in gaining insight towards the potential of peptide epitope-based vaccines as effective protective approaches against Leishmania species.
KeywordsVisceral leishmaniasis Immune responses Leishmania infantum Multi-epitope vaccines
This study was supported by a Grant agreement no. 13435 from Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.
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