Background: Chagas disease is a major health problem in Latin America, and an emerging infectious disease in the US. Previously, we have screened the Trypanosoma cruzi sequence database by a computational/bioinformatics approach, and identified antigens that exhibited the characteristics of vaccine candidates. Methodology: We investigated the protective efficacy of a multi-component DNA-prime/protein-boost vaccine (TcVac2) constituted of the selected candidates and cytokine (IL-12 and GM-CSF) expression plasmids in a murine model. C57BL/6 mice were immunized with antigen-encoding plasmids plus cytokine adjuvants, followed by recombinant proteins; and two-weeks later, challenged with T. cruzi trypomastigotes. ELISA and flow cytometry were employed to measure humoral (antibody isotypes) and cellular (lymphocyte proliferation, CD4+ and CD8+ T cell phenotype and cytokines) responses. Myocardial pathology was evaluated by H&E and Masson's trichrome staining. Principal Findings: TcVac2 induced a strong antigen-specific antibody response (IgG2b>IgG1) and a moderate level of lymphocyte proliferation in mice. Upon challenge infection, TcVac2-vaccinated mice expanded the IgG2b/IgG1 antibodies and elicited a substantial CD8+ T cell response associated with type 1 cytokines (IFN-γ and TNF-α) that resulted in control of acute parasite burden. During chronic phase, antibody response persisted, splenic activation of CD8+ T cells and IFN-γ/TNFa cytokines subsided, and IL-4/IL-10 cytokines became dominant in vaccinated mice. The tissue parasitism, inflammation, and fibrosis in heart and skeletal muscle of TcVac2-vaccinated chronic mice were undetectable by histological techniques. In comparison, mice injected with vector or cytokines only responded to T. cruzi by elicitation of a mixed (type 1/type 2) antibody, T cell and cytokine response, and exhibited persistent parasite burden and immunopathology in the myocardium. Conclusion: TcVac2-induced activation of type 1 antibody and lymphocyte responses provided resistance to acute T. cruzi infection, and consequently, prevented the evolution of chronic immunopathology associated with parasite persistence in chagasic hearts.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Infectious Diseases