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The diagnosis of visceral leishmaniasis (VL) has improved with the search of novel antigens; however, their performance is limited when samples from VL/human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-coinfected patients are tested. In this context, studies conducted to identify more suitable antigens to detect both VL and VL/HIC coinfection cases should be performed. In the current study, phage display was performed using serum samples from healthy subjects and VL, HIV-infected and VL/HIV-coinfected patients; aiming to identify novel phage-exposed epitopes to be evaluated with this diagnostic purpose. Nine non-repetitive and valid sequences were identified, synthetized and tested as peptides in enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay experiments. Results showed that three (Pep2, Pep3 and Pep4) peptides showed excellent performance to diagnose VL and VL/HIV coinfection, with 100% sensitivity and specificity values. The other peptides showed sensitivity varying from 50.9 to 80.0%, as well as specificity ranging from 60.0 to 95.6%. Pep2, Pep3 and Pep4 also showed a potential prognostic effect, since specific serological reactivity was significantly decreased after patient treatment. Bioinformatics assays indicated that Leishmania trypanothione reductase protein was predicted to contain these three conformational epitopes. In conclusion, data suggest that Pep2, Pep3 and Pep4 could be tested for the diagnosis of VL and VL/HIV coinfection.
Human cysticercosis is a public health problem caused by Taenia solium metacestodes; thus, eradication of T. solium transmission by vaccination is an urgent requirement. The Cc48 mimotope from T. solium cysticerci was tested expressed in phage particles (mCc48) and chemically synthesized (sCc48) as a vaccine candidate in experimental murine cysticercosis. For this, BALB/c mice were immunized with mCc48 (G1; n = 40), sCc48 (G2; n = 40) and phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) (G3; n = 40, positive control) and challenged with Taenia crassiceps metacestodes. Another PBS group without parasite challenge was used as a negative control (G4; n = 40). Mice were sacrificed 15, 30, 45 and 60 days post-infection for cysticerci and serum collection. Immunization efficacy was determined by cysticerci counting. Serum samples were tested by ELISA to verify antibody (IgM, IgG, IgA and IgE) and cytokine (IFNγ and IL-4) levels. The sCc48 achieved the highest rates of protection and efficacy (90 and 98%, respectively). The group immunized with mCc48 presented the highest reactivity for IgM, IgG and IgE. All groups presented IL-4, but IFNγ was quite variable among groups. The protection induced by sCc48 synthetic peptide supports further studies of this mimotope as a potential vaccine candidate against cysticercosis.
In the current study, phage-exposed mimotopes as targets against tegumentary leishmaniasis (TL) were selected by means of bio-panning cycles employing sera of TL patients and healthy subjects, besides the immune stimulation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) collected from untreated and treated TL patients and healthy subjects. The clones were evaluated regarding their specific interferon-γ (IFN-γ) and interleukin-4 (IL-4) production in the in vitro cultures, and selectivity and specificity values were calculated, and those presenting the best results were selected for the in vivo experiments. Two clones, namely A4 and A8, were identified and used in immunization protocols from BALB/c mice to protect against Leishmania amazonensis infection. Results showed a polarized Th1 response generated after vaccination, being based on significantly higher levels of IFN-γ, IL-2, IL-12, tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF); which were associated with lower production of specific IL-4, IL-10 and immunoglobulin G1 (IgG1) antibodies. Vaccinated mice presented significant reductions in the parasite load in the infected tissue and distinct organs, when compared with controls. In conclusion, we presented a strategy to identify new mimotopes able to induce Th1 response in PBMCs from TL patients and healthy subjects, and that were successfully used to protect against L. 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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