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Phage-fused epitopes from Leishmania infantum used as immunogenic vaccines confer partial protection against Leishmania amazonensis infection



Two mimotopes of Leishmania infantum identified by phage display were evaluated as vaccine candidates in BALB/c mice against Leishmania amazonensis infection. The epitope-based immunogens, namely B10 and C01, presented as phage-fused peptides; were used without association of a Th1 adjuvant, and they were administered isolated or in combination into animals. Both clones showed a specific production of interferon-gamma (IFN-γ), interleukin-12 (IL-12) and granulocyte/macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) after in vitro spleen cells stimulation, and they were able to induce a partial protection against infection. Significant reductions of parasite load in the infected footpads, liver, spleen, bone marrow and paws’ draining lymph nodes were observed in the immunized mice, in comparison with the control groups (saline, saponin, wild-type and non-relevant clones). Protection was associated with an IL-12-dependent production of IFN-γ, mediated mainly by CD8+ T cells, against parasite proteins. Protected mice also presented low levels of IL-4 and IL-10, as well as increased levels of parasite-specific IgG2a antibodies. The association of both clones resulted in an improved protection in relation to their individual use. More importantly, the absence of adjuvant did not diminish the cross-protective efficacy against Leishmania spp. infection. This study describes for the first time two epitope-based immunogens selected by phage display technology against L. infantum infected dogs sera, which induced a partial protection in BALB/c mice infected with L. amazonensis.


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* Corresponding author. Laboratório de Biotecnologia Aplicada ao Estudo das Leishmanioses, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Avenida Antônio Carlos 6627, 31·270-901 Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil. E-mail:


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