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Peptide-based vaccine successfully induces protective immunity against canine visceral leishmaniasis

Petitdidier E., Pagniez J., Pissarra J., Holzmuller P., Papierok G., Vincendeau P., Lemesre J.L., Bras-Gonçalves R.. 2019. Npj Vaccines, 4 : 9 p..

DOI: 10.1038/s41541-019-0144-2

Dogs are the main reservoir of zoonotic visceral leishmaniasis. Vaccination is a promising approach to help control leishmaniasis and to interrupt transmission of the Leishmania parasite. The promastigote surface antigen (PSA) is a highly immunogenic component of Leishmania excretory/secretory products. A vaccine based on three peptides derived from the carboxy-terminal part of Leishmania amazonensis PSA and conserved among Leishmania species, formulated with QA-21 as adjuvant, was tested on naive Beagle dogs in a preclinical trial. Four months after the full course of vaccination, dogs were experimentally infected with Leishmania infantum promastigotes. Immunization of dogs with peptide-based vaccine conferred immunity against experimental infection with L. infantum. Evidence for macrophage nitric oxide production and anti-leishmanial activity associated with IFN-¿ production by lymphocytes was only found in the vaccinated group. An increase in specific IgG2 antibodies was also measured in vaccinated dogs from 2 months after immunization. Additionally, after challenge with L. infantum, the parasite burden was significantly lower in vaccinated dogs than in the control group. These data strongly suggest that this peptide-based vaccine candidate generated cross-protection against zoonotic leishmaniasis by inducing a Th1-type immune response associated with production of specific IgG2 antibodies. This preclinical trial including a peptide-based vaccine against leishmaniasis clearly demonstrates effective protection in a natural host. This approach deserves further investigation to enhance the immunogenicity of the peptides and to consider the possible engineering of a vaccine targeting several Leishmania species.

Mots-clés : immunité; vaccin; leishmaniose; leishmania

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