Paula Ferreira

University of Porto, Oporto, Porto, Portugal

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Publications (47)132.02 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease (RHD) is caused by a calicivirus (RHDV) that kills 90% of infected adult European rabbits within 3 days. Remarkably, young rabbits are resistant to RHD. We induced immunosuppression in young rabbits by treatment with methylprednisolone acetate (MPA) and challenged the animals with RHDV by intramuscular injection. All of these young rabbits died within 3 days of infection due to fulminant hepatitis, presenting a large number of RHDV-positive dead or apoptotic hepatocytes, and a significant seric increase in cytokines, features that are similar to those of naive adult rabbits infected by RHDV. We conclude that MPA-induced immunosuppression abrogates the resistance of young rabbits to RHD, indicating that there are differences in the innate immune system between young and adult rabbits that contribute to their distinct resistance/susceptibility to RHDV infection.
    Veterinary Research 02/2014; 45(1):14. · 3.43 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Sepsis is the third most common cause of neonatal death, with Group B Streptococcus (GBS) being the leading bacterial agent. The pathogenesis of neonatal septicemia is still unsolved. We described previously that host susceptibility to GBS infection is due to early IL-10 production. In this study, we investigated whether triggering TLR2 to produce IL-10 is a risk factor for neonatal bacterial sepsis. We observed that, in contrast to wild-type (WT) pups, neonatal TLR2-deficient mice were resistant to GBS-induced sepsis. Moreover, if IL-10 signaling were blocked in WT mice, they also were resistant to sepsis. This increased survival rate was due to an efficient recruitment of neutrophils to infected tissues that leads to bacterial clearance, thus preventing the development of sepsis. To confirm that IL-10 produced through TLR2 activation prevents neutrophil recruitment, WT pups were treated with the TLR2 agonist Pam3CSK4 prior to nebulization with the neutrophil chemotactic agent LTB4. Neutrophil recruitment into the neonatal lungs was inhibited in pups treated with Pam3CSK4. However, the migration was restored in Pam3CSK4-treated pups when IL-10 signaling was blocked (either by anti-IL-10R mAb treatment or by using IL-10-deficient mice). Our findings highlight that TLR2-induced IL-10 production is a key event in neonatal susceptibility to bacterial sepsis.
    The Journal of Immunology 09/2013; · 5.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is the leading cause of meningitis in neonates. We have previously shown that plasminogen, once recruited to the GBS cell surface and converted into plasmin by host-derived activators, leads to an enhancement of bacterial virulence. Here, we investigated whether plasmin(ogen) bound at the GBS surface contributes to blood-brain barrier penetration and invasion of the central nervous system. For that purpose, GBS strain NEM316 preincubated with or without plasminogen plus tissue type plasminogen activator was analyzed for the capacity to adhere to, invade and transmigrate the human brain microvascular endothelial cell (hBMEC) monolayer, and to penetrate the central nervous system using a neonatal mouse model. At earlier times of infection, plasmin(ogen)-treated GBS exhibited a significant increase in adherence to and invasion of hBMECs. Later, injury of hBMECs were observed with plasmin(ogen)-treated GBS that displayed a plasmin-like activity. The same results were obtained when hBMECs were incubated with whole human plasma and infected with untreated GBS. To confirm that the observed effects were due to the recruitment and activation of plasminogen on GBS surface, the bacteria were first incubated with epsilon-aminocaproic acid (εACA), an inhibitor of plasminogen binding, and thereafter with plasmin(ogen). A significant decrease in the hBMECs injury that was correlated with a decrease of the GBS surface proteolytic activity was observed. Furthermore, plasmin(ogen)-treated GBS infected more efficiently the brain of neonatal mice than the untreated bacteria, indicating that plasmin(ogen) bound to GBS surface may facilitate the traversal of the blood-brain barrier. A higher survival rate was observed in offspring born from εACA-treated mothers, compared to untreated mice, and no brain infection was detected in these neonates. Our findings suggest that capture of the host plasmin(ogen) by the GBS surface promotes the crossing of the blood-brain barrier and contributes to the establishment of meningitis.
    PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(5):e63244. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Young rabbits (i.e. up to 4 weeks of age) are naturally resistant to infection by rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV), the same calicivirus that kills more than 90% of adult rabbits in 3 days or less. To characterize this fascinating model of age-related natural resistance to viral infection, we have studied the kinetics (from 6h up to 7 days) of cytokines and of leukocyte subpopulations in the liver (the target organ for calicivirus replication) and spleen (host systemic response) of RHDV infected young rabbits. Infection was associated with early (6h) elevation of proinflammatory cytokines (TNF-α, IL-1, IFN-α, IFN-γ, IL-6, IL-8). We found that all three major leukocyte subpopulations (macrophages, B and T lymphocytes) were increased in the liver 48h after the RHDV inoculation. At 7 days of infection, B and T lymphocytes were still elevated in the liver of the rabbits. In the spleen, both macrophages and B lymphocytes (but not T cells) were also enhanced. At 7 days, anti-RHDV specific antibodies were present in sera of all young rabbits infected by the virus. We conclude that natural resistance of young rabbits to RHDV infection is associated with a rapid and effective inflammatory response by the liver, with few hepatocytes being infected, and also with a sustained elevation in local and systemic B and T cells.
    Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology 10/2012; · 1.88 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV) is the etiologic agent of rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHD), an acute lethal infection that kills 90% of adult rabbits due to severe acute liver inflammation. Interestingly, young rabbits are naturally resistant to RHDV infection. Here, we have compared naturally occurring CD4(+)Foxp3(+) regulatory T cells (Tregs) between young and adult rabbits after infection by RHDV. The number and frequency of Tregs was decreased in the spleen of adult rabbits 24h after the RHDV infection; this was in contrast with the unchanged number and frequency of splenic Tregs found in young rabbits after the same infection. Also, serum levels of IL-10 and TGF-β were enhanced in the infected adult rabbits whereas no alteration was observed in infected young rabbits. However, this increase is accompanied by a burst of pro-inflammatory cytokines, but seems not able to prevent the death of the animals with severe acute liver inflammation in few days after infection. Since Tregs downregulate inflammation, we conclude that their decrease may contribute to the natural susceptibility of adult rabbits to RHDV infection.
    Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology 05/2012; 148(3-4):343-7. · 1.88 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenases (GAPDH) are cytoplasmic glycolytic enzymes that, despite lacking identifiable secretion signals, have been detected at the surface of several prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms where they exhibit non-glycolytic functions including adhesion to host components. Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is a human commensal bacterium that has the capacity to cause life-threatening meningitis and septicemia in newborns. Electron microscopy and fluorescence-activated cell sorter (FACS) analysis demonstrated the surface localization of GAPDH in GBS. By addressing the question of GAPDH export to the cell surface of GBS strain NEM316 and isogenic mutant derivatives of our collection, we found that impaired GAPDH presence in the surface and supernatant of GBS was associated with a lower level of bacterial lysis. We also found that following GBS lysis, GAPDH can associate to the surface of many living bacteria. Finally, we provide evidence for a novel function of the secreted GAPDH as an inducer of apoptosis of murine macrophages.
    PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(1):e29963. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is the leading cause of neonatal pneumonia, septicemia, and meningitis. We have previously shown that in adult mice GBS glycolytic enzyme glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) is an extracellular virulence factor that induces production of the immunosuppressive cytokine interleukin-10 (IL-10) by the host early upon bacterial infection. Here, we investigate whether immunity to neonatal GBS infection could be achieved through maternal vaccination against bacterial GAPDH. Female BALB/c mice were immunized with rGAPDH and the progeny was infected with a lethal inoculum of GBS strains. Neonatal mice born from mothers immunized with rGAPDH were protected against infection with GBS strains, including the ST-17 highly virulent clone. A similar protective effect was observed in newborns passively immunized with anti-rGAPDH IgG antibodies, or F(ab')(2) fragments, indicating that protection achieved with rGAPDH vaccination is independent of opsonophagocytic killing of bacteria. Protection against lethal GBS infection through rGAPDH maternal vaccination was due to neutralization of IL-10 production soon after infection. Consequently, IL-10 deficient (IL-10(-/-)) mice pups were as resistant to GBS infection as pups born from vaccinated mothers. We observed that protection was correlated with increased neutrophil trafficking to infected organs. Thus, anti-rGAPDH or anti-IL-10R treatment of mice pups before GBS infection resulted in increased neutrophil numbers and lower bacterial load in infected organs, as compared to newborn mice treated with the respective control antibodies. We showed that mothers immunized with rGAPDH produce neutralizing antibodies that are sufficient to decrease IL-10 production and induce neutrophil recruitment into infected tissues in newborn mice. These results uncover a novel mechanism for GBS virulence in a neonatal host that could be neutralized by vaccination or immunotherapy. As GBS GAPDH is a structurally conserved enzyme that is metabolically essential for bacterial growth in media containing glucose as the sole carbon source (i.e., the blood), this protein constitutes a powerful candidate for the development of a human vaccine against this pathogen.
    PLoS Pathogens 11/2011; 7(11):e1002363. · 8.14 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV), a member of the Caliciviridae family, is the etiologic agent of Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease (RHD); this viral disease is highly contagious and kills more than 90% of infected adult rabbits. Research on experimental calicivirus infection uses inocula obtained from livers of rabbits dying from calicivirus infection. This implies that caliciviruses have to be purified from liver homogenates. Current methods to isolate caliciviruses from rabbit livers are time consuming. We propose here a new procedure for fast purification of rabbit caliciviruses from liver homogenates that uses centrifugation through an iodixanol gradient. This method offers in approximately 2 h a sample with a high degree of calicivirus purity, as shown by its biochemical and immunocytochemistry analysis, which is also able to kill adult rabbits from RHD within 48 h of inoculation.
    Research in Veterinary Science 08/2011; 91(1):164-6. · 1.77 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Therapeutic vaccination with Streptococcus sobrinus recombinant enolase (rEnolase) protects rats from dental caries. Here, we investigated the effect that maternal rEnolase vaccination before pregnancy had on the offspring's immune response to S. sobrinus oral infection and dental caries progression. Female Wistar rats were immunized by intranasal and subcutaneous routes with rEnolase adsorbed onto aluminum hydroxide as adjuvant or similarly treated with the adjuvant alone (sham-immunized). Ten days after the last administration, the immunized females were paired with a male rat. The oral immune responses to S. sobrinus infection and dental caries in the offspring were evaluated. The results showed that pups born from rEnolase-immunized mothers had higher levels of rEnolase-specific salivary IgA and IgG antibodies (indicating a placental antibody transfer) and lower sulcal and proximal enamel caries scores than rats born from sham-immunized mothers. In conclusion, rEnolase maternal immunization before pregnancy provides offspring with protection against S. sobrinus-induced dental caries.
    Journal of dental research 03/2011; 90(3):325-30. · 3.46 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease (RHD) is a lethal infection caused by calicivirus that kills 90% of the infected adult rabbits within 3 days. The calicivirus replicates in the liver and causes a fulminant hepatitis. Most studies on the pathology of RHD have been focused on the fulminant liver disease. This may not be the only mechanism in the pathogenesis of RHD: calicivirus infection may also induce leukopenia in the infected adult rabbits. We show now by flow cytometry analysis that the calicivirus induces an early decrease in B and T cells, in both spleen and liver. The depletion of B and T cells was associated with apoptosis labelled by annexin V. These changes occurred in rabbits before they showed enzymatic evidence of liver damage and persisted after liver transaminase values were very high. We conclude that depletion of lymphocytes caused by the calicivirus infection precedes or attends liver damage. The relative contribution of this lymphocyte depletion for the pathogenesis of the fatal calicivirus infection of rabbits remains to be investigated.
    Veterinary Research Communications 12/2010; 34(8):659-68. · 1.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Streptococcus agalactiae is a contagious, mastitis-causing pathogen that is highly adapted to survive in the bovine mammary gland. This study used a BALB/c mouse model of Streptococcus agalactiae mastitis to evaluate leukocyte populations in regional lymph nodes and cytokine expression in the mammary gland involved in the immune response against Streptococcus agalactiae. It was found that the bacteria replicated efficiently in the mammary gland, peaking after 24 h and increasing by 100-fold. Dissemination of bacteria to systemic organs was observed 6 h after infection. At the same time, a massive infiltration of polymorphonuclear cells and an increase in the inflammatory cytokines interleukin (IL)-1beta, IL-6 and tumour necrosis factor-alpha were detected in mammary glands, indicating an early inflammatory response. A decrease in the levels of inflammatory cytokines in mammary glands was observed 72 h after infection, accompanied by an increase in the levels of IL-12 and IL-10, which were related to a gradual decrease in bacterial load. An increase in the number of macrophages and B220(+) lymphocytes and similar increases in both CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells in regional lymph nodes were observed, being most pronounced 5 days after infection. Moreover, increased levels of anti-Streptococcus agalactiae antibodies in the mammary gland were observed 10 days after infection. Overall, these data suggest that the host exhibits both innate and acquired immune responses in response to Streptococcus agalactiae mastitis.
    Journal of Medical Microbiology 08/2009; 58(Pt 7):951-8. · 2.30 Impact Factor
  • Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology 03/2009; 128(1):258-258. · 1.88 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Caliciviruses cause rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD) that kills more than 90% of the infected adult animals within 1 a 3 days of infection. The virus replicates in the liver and causes a fulminant hepatitis in adult rabbits leading to RHD. A mystery of the calicivirus infection is that young rabbits (less than 8-weeks old) are resistant to the infection, in spite of undergoing viral replication in the liver and of expressing transient hepatitis. Heterophils were the predominant inflammatory cells seen in hepatic tissue of infected adult rabbits, whereas mononuclear cells dominated the inflammatory infiltrates of the infected young rabbits (4-weeks-old). In order to define the role of inflammation in the pathogenesis of the calicivirus infection, we have studied the cellular inflammatory response in young rabbits experimentally infected by calicivirus. For this, we have used transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and flow cytometry to identify the inflammatory cells that infiltrate the hepatic tissue of young rabbits at 48 hours of calicivirus infection. In same infected rabbits, lymphoid organs (spleen and thymus) were used to quantify by flow cytometry the total number of leukocytes seen inside these organs.
    Microscopy and Microanalysis 01/2009; 15. · 2.50 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Dental caries is among the more prevalent chronic human infections for which an effective human vaccine has not yet been achieved. Enolase from Streptococcus sobrinus has been identified as an immunomodulatory protein. In the present study, we used S. sobrinus recombinant enolase (rEnolase) as a target antigen and assessed its therapeutic effect in a rat model of dental caries. Wistar rats that were fed a cariogenic solid diet on day 18 after birth were orally infected with S. sobrinus on day 19 after birth and for 5 consecutive days thereafter. Five days after infection and, again, 3 weeks later, rEnolase plus alum adjuvant was delivered into the oral cavity of the rats. A sham-immunized group of rats was contemporarily treated with adjuvant alone. In the rEnolase-immunized rats, increased levels of salivary IgA and IgG antibodies specific for this recombinant protein were detected. A significant decrease in sulcal, proximal enamel, and dentin caries scores was observed in these animals, compared with sham-immunized control animals. No detectable histopathologic alterations were observed in all immunized animals. Furthermore, the antibodies produced against bacterial enolase did not react with human enolase. Overall, these results indicate that rEnolase could be a promising and safe candidate for testing in trials of vaccines against dental caries in humans.
    The Journal of Infectious Diseases 11/2008; 199(1):116-23. · 5.85 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Streptococcus agalactiae is a common pathogen that causes bovine mastitis. The aims of this study were to evaluate the antibody response against S. agalactiae extracellular proteins in the whey and serum of naturally infected bovines and to identify possible immunodominant extracellular antigens. IgG1 antibodies against S. agalactiae extracellular proteins were elevated in the whey and serum of naturally infected bovines. In the whey, the levels of IgG1 specific for S. agalactiae extracellular proteins were similar in infected and noninfected milk quarters from the same cow, and the production of antibodies specific for S. agalactiae extracellular proteins was induced only by infection with this bacterium. The immunoreactivity of extracellular proteins with bovine whey was clearly different in infected versus control animals. Group B protective surface protein and 5'-nucleotidase family protein were 2 major immunoreactive proteins that were detected only in the whey of infected cows, suggesting that these proteins may be important in the pathogenesis of S. agalactiae-induced mastitis. This information could be used to diagnose S. agalactiae infection. In addition, these antigens may be useful as carrier proteins for serotype-specific polysaccharides in conjugate vaccines.
    Canadian Journal of Microbiology 11/2008; 54(11):899-905. · 1.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Calicivirus infection of adult rabbits induces the so-called rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD) that kills 90% or more of the infected animals; in contrast, young rabbits (up to 8-week-old animals) are resistant to the same infectious agent. We report that calicivirus inoculation of young rabbits induced moderate titres of antiviral antibodies. When these rabbits reached adulthood, a second calicivirus inoculation resulted in resistance to RHD and boosting of antibody titres in half of the rabbits. Adoptive transfer of sera from calicivirus-infected young rabbits to naïve adult rabbits conferred resistance to RHD. We conclude that calicivirus infection of young rabbits induces specific anti-calicivirus antibodies that will protect them from RHD when they reach adulthood.
    Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology 03/2008; 121(3-4):364-9. · 1.88 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Interactions of several microbial pathogens with the plasminogen system increase their invasive potential. In this study, we show that Streptococcus agalactiae binds human plasminogen which can be subsequently activated to plasmin, thus generating a proteolytic bacterium. S. agalactiae binds plasminogen via the direct pathway, using plasminogen receptors, and via the indirect pathway through fibrinogen receptors. The glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase is one of the S. agalactiae proteins that bind plasminogen. Presence of exogenous activators such as uPA and tPA are required to activate bound plasminogen. Results from competitive inhibition assays indicate that binding is partially mediated through the lysine binding sites of plasminogen. Following plasminogen binding and activation, S. agalactiae is able to degrade in vitro fibronectin, one of the host extracellular matrix proteins. Moreover, incubation of S. agalactiae with either plasminogen alone, or plasminogen plus fibrinogen, in the presence of tPA enhanced its virulence in C57BL/6 mice, suggesting that acquisition of plasmin-like activity by the bacteria increase their invasiveness.
    Microbes and Infection 10/2007; 9(11):1276-84. · 2.92 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Certain extracellular proteins produced by several pathogenic microorganisms interfere with the host immune system facilitating microbial colonization and were thus designated virulence-associated immunomodulatory proteins. In this study, a protein with B lymphocyte stimulatory activity was isolated from culture supernatants of Streptococcus agalactiae strain NEM316. This protein, with an apparent molecular mass of 45 kDa, was identified as GAPDH by N-terminal amino acid sequencing. The gapC gene was cloned and expressed in Escherichia coli for the production of a recombinant histidyl-tagged protein. The recombinant GAPDH (rGAPDH), purified in an enzymatically active form, induced in vitro an up-regulation of CD69 expression on B cells from normal and BCR transgenic mice. In addition, rGAPDH induced an increase in the numbers of total, but not of rGAPDH-specific, splenic Ig-secreting cells in C57BL/6 mice treated i.p. with this protein. These in vitro- and in vivo-elicited B cell responses suggest that the B cell stimulatory effect of rGAPDH is independent of BCR specificity. A S. agalactiae strain overexpressing GAPDH showed increased virulence as compared with the wild-type strain in C57BL/6 mice. This virulence was markedly reduced in IL-10-deficient and anti-rGAPDH antiserum-treated mice. These results suggest that IL-10 production, which was detected at higher concentrations in the serum of rGAPDH-treated mice, is important in determining the successfulness of the host colonization by S. agalactiae and they highlight the direct role of GAPDH in this process. Taken together, our data demonstrate that S. agalactiae GAPDH is a virulence-associated immunomodulatory protein.
    The Journal of Immunology 03/2007; 178(3):1379-87. · 5.52 Impact Factor
  • P G Ferreira, A Costa-e-Silva, A P Aguas
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    ABSTRACT: Calicivirus infection causes rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD) that kills more than 90% of adult animals, whereas young rabbits are naturally resistant to this viral disease. It has been proposed that the different response of adult and young rabbits to calicivirus infection is due to absence of viral receptors in respiratory and digestive systems of young animals. We have searched for liver disease in 4-week-old rabbits inoculated with a calicivirus suspension by intranasal and oral routes. These young rabbits showed cell damage and mononuclear infiltration of the liver. The hepatic lesions were associated with mild to moderate increase in circulating transaminases. We conclude that the previously reported reduction of viral receptors in the epithelium of respiratory and digestive systems of young rabbits does not inhibit calicivirus from inducing liver disease in these hosts.
    Research in Veterinary Science 01/2007; 81(3):362-5. · 1.77 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: C57BL/6 mice thymectomized as adults or depleted of CD4+ cells were much less susceptible than intact conventional mice to the B-cell mitogenic and specific immunosuppressive effects of a protein designated as F5′EP-Sm secreted by Streptococcus mutans. These mice were also considerably more resistant to infection by these bacteria than intact individuals. The immunosuppressor effect of F5′EP-Sm was also abrogated, however, in conventional intact mice when immunized intraperitoneally against heat-inactivated F5′EP-Sm. On the other hand, resistance to bacterial infection could be achieved by immunization of conventional intact C57BL/6 mice against heat-inactivated F5′EP-Sm by intraperitoneal or intradermal routes even when the animals were infected 3 months after immunization and even when the immunization procedure did not include Freund's adjuvant, which was the case with the intradermal route. Interestingly, the protection against the bacterial infection was accompanied by only a minor increase in specific serum antibodies against F5′EP-Sm.These results are discussed in the context of adequate strategies for immunoprotection against Streptococcus mutans and other micro-organisms which are secretors of substances that share both B-cell mitogenic and immunosuppressive properties and which are thus able to suppress the immune response by overstimulation of the immune system of the host.
    Scandinavian Journal of Immunology 06/2006; 31(3):361 - 366. · 2.20 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

438 Citations
132.02 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2005–2013
    • University of Porto
      • • Departamento de Anatomia
      • • Department of Anatomy
      • • Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas Abel Salazar (ICBAS)
      Oporto, Porto, Portugal
  • 1999–2013
    • Institute for Molecular and Cell Biology
      Oporto, Porto, Portugal
  • 2004
    • University of Minho
      • Institute for Biotechnology and Bioengineering - Centre of Biological Engineering
      Bracara Augusta, Braga, Portugal