Lourena E Costa

Federal University of Minas Gerais, Cidade de Minas, Minas Gerais, Brazil

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Publications (18)44.5 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The serodiagnosis of canine visceral leishmaniasis (CVL) presents problems related to its sensitivity and/or specificity. In the present study, a new Leishmania-specific hypothetical protein, LiHyD, was produced as a recombinant protein (rLiHyD) and evaluated in ELISA experiments for the CVL serodiagnosis. LiHyD was characterized as antigenic in a recent immunoproteomic search performed with Leishmania infantum proteins and the sera of dogs developing visceral leishmaniasis (VL). Aiming to compare the efficacy between whole proteins and synthetic peptides, two linear and one conformational B cell epitopes of LiHyD were synthesized and also evaluated as diagnostic markers. The four antigens were recognized by the sera of dogs suffering VL. On the contrary, low reactivity was observed when they were assayed with sera from non-infected healthy dogs living in endemic or non-endemic areas of leishmaniasis. In addition, no reactivity was found against them using sera from dogs experimentally infected by Trypanosoma cruzi, Babesia canis, or Ehrlichia canis, or sera from animals vaccinated with the Leish-Tec® vaccine, a prophylactic preparation commercially available for CVL prevention in Brazil. As comparative diagnostic tools, a recombinant version of the amastigote-specific A2 protein and a soluble crude Leishmania extract were studied. Both antigens presented lower sensitivity and/or specificity values than the LiHyD-based products. The rLiHyD presented better results for the CVL serodiagnosis than its linear epitopes, although the peptide recreating the conformational epitope resulted also appropriate as a diagnostic marker of CVL. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study showing the use of a conformational epitope derived from a Leishmania protein for serodiagnosis of CVL.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2016 · Parasitology Research
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    ABSTRACT: Experimental vaccine candidates have been evaluated to prevent leishmaniasis, but no commercial vaccine has been proved to be effective against more than one parasite species. LiHyT is a Leishmania-specific protein that was firstly identified as protective against Leishmania infantum. In this study, LiHyT was evaluated as a vaccine to against two Leishmania species causing tegumentary leishmaniasis (TL): Leishmania major and Leishmania braziliensis. BALB/c mice were immunized with rLiHyT plus saponin and lately challenged with promastigotes of the two parasite species. The immune response generated was evaluated before and 10 weeks after infection, as well as the parasite burden at this time after infection. The vaccination induced a Th1 response, which was characterized by the production of IFN-γ, IL-12 and GM-CSF, as well as by high levels of IgG2a antibodies, after in vitro stimulation using both the protein and parasite extracts. After challenge, vaccinated mice showed significant reductions in their infected footpads, as well as in the parasite burden in the tissue and organs evaluated, when compared to the control groups. The anti-Leishmania Th1 response was maintained after infection, being the IFN-γ production based mainly on CD4(+) T cells. We described one conserved Leishmania-specific protein that could compose a pan-Leishmania vaccine. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2016 · Parasite Immunology
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    Full-text · Dataset · Oct 2015
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    ABSTRACT: The serodiagnosis of human tegumentary leishmaniasis (TL) presents some problems, such as the low level of antileishmanial antibodies found in most of the patients, as well as the cross-reactivity in subjects infected by other Trypanosomatides. In the present study, an immunoproteomic approach was performed aiming to identify antigens in total extracts of stationary-phase promastigote and amastigote-like forms of Leishmania (Viannia) braziliensis using sera from TL patients. With the purpose to reduce the cross-reactivity of the identified proteins, spots recognized by sera from TL patients, but also by antibodies present in sera from non-infected patients living in endemic areas for TL and Chagas disease patients, were discarded. Two Leishmania hypothetical and 18 proteins with known functions were identified as antigenic. The study was extended with some of them to validate the results of the immunoscreening. The coding regions of five of the characterized antigens (enolase, tryparedoxin peroxidase, eukaryotic initiation factor 5a, β-tubulin, and one of the hypothetical proteins) were cloned in a prokaryotic expression vector and the corresponding recombinant proteins were purified and evaluated for the serodiagnosis of TL. The antigens presented sensitivity and specificity values ranging from 95.4 to 100%, and 82.5 to 100%, respectively. As a comparative antigen, a preparation of Leishmania spp. extract showed sensitivity and specificity values of 65.1 and 57.5%, respectively. The present study has enabled the identification of proteins able to be employed for the serodiagnosis of TL.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2015 · Clinical and vaccine Immunology: CVI
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    Full-text · Dataset · Jun 2015
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    ABSTRACT: Stryphnodendron obovatum Benth. is a Brazilian tree used to treat skin ulceration, promote wound healing, and inhibit the growth of protozoa, including Trypanosoma and Leishmania species. Bioguided fractionation of the ethanol extract of S. obovatum stem bark was performed, and antileishmanial and antioxidant activities of the standardized fractions were analyzed. Stationary-phase Leishmania amazonensis promastigotes, murine macrophages, and human red blood cells (RBCs) were exposed to plant extract, standardized fractions or isolated compounds for 48h at 37°C to evaluate their antiparasitic activity and cytotoxicity. The 2,2-diphenyl-1-picryl-hidrazyl assay was used to evaluate antioxidant activity. The S. obovatum extract and fractions showed antileishmanial and antioxidant activity; however, the organic fraction (OF) showed the best efficacy. We identified gallic acid, gallocatechin, epigallocatechin, catechin, and epigallocatechin gallate in the OF fraction. These compounds effectively inhibited L. amazonensis activity, with gallic acid, gallocatechin, and epigallocatechin gallate showing the highest selectivity. Furthermore, the evaluated compounds had no significant effect on murine macrophages and human RBCs. The compounds present in the S. obovatum plant bark ethanol extract may provide an alternative therapeutic approach for L. amazonensis treatment. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2015 · Journal of Ethnopharmacology
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    ABSTRACT: Amphotericin B (AmpB) is active against leishmaniasis, but its use is hampered due to its high toxicity observed in patients. In this study, a nanoparticles-delivery system for AmpB (NQC-AmpB), containing chitosan and chondroitin sulfate molecules, was evaluated in BALB/c mice against Leishmania amazonensis. An in vivo biodistribution study, including biochemical and toxicological evaluations, was performed to evaluate the toxicity of AmpB. Nanoparticles were radiolabeled with technetium-99m and injected in mice. The products presented a similar biodistribution in the liver, spleen, and kidneys of the animals. Free AmpB induced alterations in the body weight of the mice, which, in the biochemical analysis, indicated hepatic and renal injury, as well as morphological damage to the kidneys of the animals. In general, no significant organic alteration was observed in the animals treated with NQC-AmpB. Mice were infected with L. amazonensis and treated with the nanoparticles or free AmpB; then, parasitological and immunological analyses were performed. The NQC-AmpB group, as compared to the control groups, presented significant reductions in the lesion size and in the parasite burden in all evaluated organs. These animals presented significantly higher levels of IFN-γ and IL-12, and low levels of IL-4 and IL-10, when compared to the control groups. The NQC-AmpB system was effective in reducing the infection in the animals, and proved to be effective in diminishing the toxicity evoked by AmpB, which was observed when it was administered alone. In conclusion, NQC-AmpB could be considered a viable possibility for future studies in the treatment of leishmaniasis.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2014 · International Journal of Nanomedicine
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    ABSTRACT: Leishmaniasis is a major public health problem, and the alarming spread of parasite resistance has increased the importance of discovering new therapeutic products. The present study aimed to investigate the in vitro leishmanicidal activity from 16 different Brazilian medicinal plants. Stationary-phase promastigotes of Leishmania amazonensis and murine macrophages were exposed to 44 plant extracts or fractions for 48 h at 37°C, in order to evaluate their antileishmanial activity and cytotoxicity, respectively. The most potent extracts against L. amazonensis were the hexanic extract of Dipteryx alata (IC50 of 0.08 μg/mL), the hexanic extract of Syzygium cumini (IC50 of 31.64 μg/mL), the ethanolic and hexanic extracts of leaves of Hymenaea courbaril (IC50 of 44.10 μg/mL and 35.84 μg/mL, respectively), the ethanolic extract of H. stignocarpa (IC50 of 4.69 μg/mL), the ethanolic extract of Jacaranda caroba (IC50 of 13.22 μg/mL), and the ethanolic extract of J. cuspidifolia leaves (IC50 of 10.96 μg/mL). Extracts of D. alata and J. cuspidifolia presented higher selectivity index, with high leishmanicidal activity and low cytotoxicity in the mammalian cells. The capacity in treated infected macrophages using the extracts and/or fractions of D. alata and J. cuspidifolia was also analyzed, and reductions of 95.80%, 98.31%, and 97.16%, respectively, in the parasite burden, were observed. No nitric oxide (NO) production could be observed in the treated macrophages, after stimulation with the extracts and/or fractions of D. alata and J. cuspidifolia, suggesting that the biological activity could be due to mechanisms other than macrophage activation mediated by NO production. Based on phytochemistry studies, the classes of compounds that could contribute to the observed activities are also discussed. In conclusion, the data presented in this study indicated that traditional medicinal plant extracts present effective antileishmanial activity. Future studies could focus on the identification and purification of the antileishmanial compounds within these plants for analysis of their in vivo antileishmanial activity.
    Full-text · Article · May 2014 · Experimental Parasitology
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    ABSTRACT: The study reported here aimed to develop an optimized nanoparticle delivery system for amphotericin B (AmpB) using a polyelectrolyte complexation technique. For this, two oppositely charged polymers presenting anti-leishmanial activity - chitosan (Cs) and chondroitin sulfate (ChS) - were used: Cs as a positively charged polymer and ChS as a negatively charged polymer. The chitosan (NQ) nanoparticles, chitosan-chondroitin sulfate (NQC) nanoparticles, and chitosan-chondroitin sulfate-amphotericin B (NQC-AmpB) nanoparticles presented a mean particle size of 79, 104, and 136 nm, respectively; and a polydispersity index of 0.2. The measured zeta potential of the nanoparticles indicated a positive charge in their surface, while scanning and transmission electron microscopy revealed spherical nanoparticles with a smooth surface. Attenuated total reflectance-Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy analysis showed an electrostatic interaction between the polymers, whereas the release profile of AmpB from the NQC-AmpB nanoparticles showed a controlled release. In addition, the Cs; ChS; and NQ, NQC, and NQC-AmpB nanoparticles proved to be effective against promastigotes of Leishmania amazonensis and Leishmania chagasi, with a synergistic effect observed between Cs and ChS. Moreover, the applied NQ, NQC, and NQC-AmpB compounds demonstrated low toxicity in murine macrophages, as well as null hemolytic activity in type O(+) human red blood cells. Pure AmpB demonstrated high toxicity in the macrophages. The results show that cells infected with L. amazonensis and later treated with Cs, ChS, NQ, NQC, NQC-AmpB nanoparticles, or pure AmpB presented with a significant reduction in parasite number in the order of 24%, 31%, 55%, 66%, 90%, and 89%, respectively. The data presented indicate that the engineered NQC-AmpB nanoparticles could potentially be used as an alternative therapy to treat leishmaniasis, mainly due its low toxicity to mammals' cells.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2014 · International Journal of Nanomedicine
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    ABSTRACT: Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is an endemic zoonotic disease in Brazil, where dogs are the main domestic parasite reservoirs, and percentages of infected dogs living in endemic canine VL (CVL) regions ranged from 10% to 62%. Despite technological advances, some problems have been reported in CVL serodiagnosis. The present study describes a sequential subtractive selection through phage display technology from polyclonal antibodies of negative and positive sera, which resulted in the identification of potential bacteriophage-fused peptides that are highly sensitive and specific to antibodies of CVL. A negative selection was performed, in which phage clones were adhered to purified IgGs from healthy and Trypanosoma cruzi-infected dogs to eliminate cross-reactive sera. Remaining supernatant non-adhered phages were submitted to a positive selection against IgG from L. infantum-infected dogs sera. Phage clones adhered to purified IgGs from the sera of CVL were selected. Eighteen clones were identified and their reactivity tested by phage-ELISA against the sera of infected dogs (n=31) compared to vaccinated (n=21), experimentally infected dogs with cross-reactive parasites (n=23), and healthy controls (n=17). Eight clones presented sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values of 100%, and no cross-reactivity with T. cruzi- or Erlichia canis-infected dogs, or with vaccinated dogs with two different CVL commercial vaccines in Brazil. Our study identified eight mimotopes of L. infantum antigens with 100% accuracy in CVL serodiagnosis. The ready use of these mimotopes by phage-ELISA proved to be an excellent assay, which was reproducible, simple, fast, and inexpensive, and provided an application to CVL monitoring programs.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2013 · Clinical and vaccine Immunology: CVI
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    ABSTRACT: In Brazil, the percentage of infected dogs living in areas where canine visceral leishmaniasis (CVL) is endemic ranges from 10 to 62%; however, the prevalence of infection in dogs is probably higher than figures reported from serological studies. In addition, problems with the occurrence of false-positive or false-negative results in the serodiagnosis of CVL have been reported. The present work analyzed the potential of synthetic peptides mapped from hypothetical proteins for improvement of the serodiagnosis of Leishmania infantum infection in dogs. From 26 identified leishmanial proteins, eight were selected, considering that no homologies between these proteins and others from trypanosomatide sequence databases were encountered. The sequences of these proteins were mapped to identify linear B-cell epitopes, and 17 peptides were synthesized and tested in enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) for the serodiagnosis of L. infantum infection in dogs. Of these, three exhibited sensitivity and specificity values higher than 75% and 90%, respectively, to differentiate L. infantum-infected animals from Trypanosoma cruzi-infected animals and healthy animals. Soluble Leishmania antigen (SLA) showed poor sensitivity (4%) and specificity (36%) to differentiate L. infantum-infected dogs from healthy and T. cruzi-infected dogs. Lastly, the three selected peptides were combined in different mixtures and higher sensitivity and specificity values were obtained, even when sera from T. cruzi-infected dogs were used. The study's findings suggest that these three peptides can constitute a potential tool for more sensitive and specific serodiagnosis of L. infantum infection in dogs.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2013 · Clinical and vaccine Immunology: CVI
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    ABSTRACT: [This corrects the article on p. e2148 in vol. 7.].
    No preview · Article · Apr 2013 · PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
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    ABSTRACT: Background The present study aimed to evaluate a hypothetical Leishmania amastigote-specific protein (LiHyp1), previously identified by an immunoproteomic approach performed in Leishmania infantum, which showed homology to the super-oxygenase gene family, attempting to select a new candidate antigen for specific serodiagnosis, as well as to compose a vaccine against VL. Methodology/Principal Findings The LiHyp1 DNA sequence was cloned; the recombinant protein (rLiHyp1) was purified and evaluated for its antigenicity and immunogenicity. The rLiHyp1 protein was recognized by antibodies from sera of asymptomatic and symptomatic animals with canine visceral leishmaniasis (CVL), but presented no cross-reactivity with sera of dogs vaccinated with Leish-Tec, a Brazilian commercial vaccine; with Chagas' disease or healthy animals. In addition, the immunogenicity and protective efficacy of rLiHyp1 plus saponin was evaluated in BALB/c mice challenged subcutaneously with virulent L. infantum promastigotes. rLiHyp1 plus saponin vaccinated mice showed a high and specific production of IFN-γ, IL-12, and GM-CSF after in vitro stimulation with the recombinant protein. Immunized and infected mice, as compared to the control groups (saline and saponin), showed significant reductions in the number of parasites found in the liver, spleen, bone marrow, and in the paws' draining lymph nodes. Protection was associated with an IL-12-dependent production of IFN-γ, produced mainly by CD4 T cells. In these mice, a decrease in the parasite-mediated IL-4 and IL-10 response could also be observed. Conclusions/Significance The present study showed that this Leishmania oxygenase amastigote-specific protein can be used for a more sensitive and specific serodiagnosis of asymptomatic and symptomatic CVL and, when combined with a Th1-type adjuvant, can also be employ as a candidate antigen to develop vaccines against VL.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2013 · PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
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    ABSTRACT: The present study aimed to investigate the in vitro antileishmanial activity of five fractions obtained from Agaricus blazei water extract (AbM), namely, Fab1, Fab2, Fab3, Fab4, and Fab5; and use the selected leishmanicidal fraction to treat BALB/c mice infected with Leishmania chagasi. A curve dose-titration was performed to obtain the concentration to be test in infected animals. In this context, Fab5 fraction and AbM were used in the doses of 20 and 100mg/kg/day, respectively, with the product been administered once a day. The effect induced by a chemo-prophylactic regimen, based on the administration Fab5 fraction and AbM 5days before infection, and maintained for an additional 20days post-infection was compared to a therapeutic regimen, in which the compounds were administered from 0 to 20days of infection. Control animals were either treated with amphotericin B deoxycholate (AmpB) or received distilled water. All groups were followed up for 10weeks post-infection, when parasitological and immunological parameters were analyzed. The Fab5 presented the best results of in vitro leishmanicidal activity. In the in vivo experiments, the use of Fab5 or AbM, as compared to control groups, resulted in significant reduced parasite burdens in the liver, spleen, and draining lymph nodes of the infected animals, as compared to control groups. A Type 1 immune response was observed in the Fab5 or AbM treated animals. No significant toxicity was observed. The chemo-prophylactic regimen proved to be more effective to induce theses responses. In this context, the data presented in this study showed the potential of the purified Fab5 fraction of AbM as a therapeutic alternative to treat visceral leishmaniasis. In addition, it can be postulated that this fraction can be also employed in a chemo-prophylactic regimen associated or not with other therapeutic products.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2012 · Experimental Parasitology
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    ABSTRACT: The development of therapeutic alternatives to treat leishmaniasis has received considerable attention. The present study aimed to investigate the efficacy of the Agaricus blazei Murill water extract (AbM) to treat BALB/c mice infected with Leishmania amazonensis. First, a dose-titration curve was performed. The most well-defined concentration able to induce the most effective results in the infected animals, considering a daily administration of the product, was that of 100 mg kg(-1) day(-1). In this context, the AbM was administered orally, beginning on day 0 up to 20 days postinfection. Additional animals were treated with amphotericin B (AmpB, 5 mg kg(-1) day(-1)) by peritoneal route for the same period of time, while the control group received distilled water. The animals were evaluated at 14 weeks post-infection, at which time the parasitological and immunological parameters were analyzed. Mice treated with the AbM presented a 60 % reduction in the inflammation of infected footpads as compared to untreated control-infected mice. Moreover, in the treated mice, as compared to the untreated controls, approximately 60 and 66 % reductions could be observed in the parasite burdens of the footpad and draining lymph nodes, respectively. In addition, no parasites could be detected in the spleen of treated mice at week 14 postinfection. These treated animals produced significantly higher levels of interferon gamma (IFN-γ) and nitric oxide (NO), higher levels of parasite-specific IgG2a isotype antibodies, and lower levels of interleukin (IL)-4, and IL-10 in the spleen and lymph node cell cultures than did the controls. Differences could be observed by comparing animals treated with AbM to those treated with AmpB, as indicated by a significant reduction in tissue parasitism, higher levels of IFN-γ and NO, and lower levels of IL-4 and IL-10, as well as by a decreased hepatic toxicity. In conclusion, the present study's data show that the A. blazei Murill water extract presents a high potential for the treatment of leishmaniasis, although additional studies on mice, as well as on other mammal hosts, are warranted in an attempt to determine this extract's true efficacy as compared to other known therapeutic products.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2012 · Parasitology Research
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    ABSTRACT: Experimental vaccines to protect against visceral leishmaniasis (VL) have been developed by using BALB/c mice infected with a large (10⁷ to 10⁸) inoculum of parasites. Remarkably, prior literature has reported that the poor protection observed is mainly due to the high susceptibility of this strain. To determine factors inherent to mice that might abrogate vaccine-induced efficacy, the present research sought to investigate the impact of the administration of different infective inoculums of Leishmania chagasi (syn. L. infantum) in BALB/c mice, evaluating subcutaneous and intravenous routes of administration as well as parasitological and immunological parameters over different periods of time. This study shows that the injection of a highly infective inoculum in mice, through both subcutaneous and intravenous routes, results in a sustained infection. The mice developed a high parasite load in the liver; however, these values diminished over time. This result did not corroborate with the parasite load in the bone marrow and brain and proved to be expressively different in the spleen and draining lymph nodes, where the values increased over time. Mice infected with a low dose of parasites (10³) showed a certain resistance against infection, based mainly on the IFN-γ and oxide nitric production. Considering all the elements, it could be concluded that the models employing high doses (10⁷) of L. chagasi in BALB/c mice can bring about an imbalance in the animals' immune response, thus allowing for the development of the disease at the expense of efficacy within the vaccine candidates.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2011 · Parasitology Research
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    ABSTRACT: Leishmaniasis is a major public health problem, and the alarming spread of parasite resistance underlines the importance of discovering new therapeutic products. The present study aims to investigate the in vitro leishmanicidal activity of an Agaricus blazei Murill mushroom extract as compared to different Leishmania species and stages. The water extract proved to be effective against promastigote and amastigote-like stages of Leishmania amazonensis, L. chagasi, and L. major, with IC(50) (50% inhibitory concentration) values of 67.5, 65.8, and 56.8 μg/mL for promastigotes, and 115.4, 112.3, and 108.4 μg/mL for amastigotes-like respectively. The infectivity of the three Leishmania species before and after treatment with the water extract was analyzed, and it could be observed that 82%, 57%, and 73% of the macrophages were infected with L. amazonensis, L. major, and L. chagasi, respectively. However, when parasites were pre-incubated with the water extract, and later used to infect macrophages, they were able to infect only 12.7%, 24.5%, and 19.7% of the phagocytic cells for L. amazonensis, L. chagasi, and L. major, respectively. In other experiments, macrophages were infected with L. amazonensis, L. chagasi, or L. major, and later treated with the aforementioned extract, presented reductions of 84.4%, 79.6%, and 85.3% in the parasite burden after treatment. A confocal microscopy revealed the loss of the viability of the parasites within the infected macrophages after treatment with the water extract. The applied extract presented a low cytotoxicity in murine macrophages and a null hemolytic activity in type O(+) human red blood cells. No nitric oxide (NO) production, nor inducible nitric oxide syntase expression, could be observed in macrophages after stimulation with the water extract, suggesting that biological activity may be due to direct mechanisms other than macrophage activation by means of NO production. In conclusion, the results demonstrate that the A. blazei Murill water extract can potentially be used as a therapeutic alternative on its own, or in association with other drugs, to treat Visceral and Cutaneous Leishmaniasis.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2011 · Parasitology International
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    ABSTRACT: Leishmania chagasi and Leishmania amazonensis are the etiologic agents of different clinical forms of human leishmaniasis in South America. In an attempt to select candidate antigens for a vaccine protecting against different Leishmania species, the efficacy of vaccination using Leishmania ribosomal proteins and saponin as adjuvant was examined in BALB/c mice against challenge infection with both parasite species. Mice vaccinated with parasite ribosomal proteins purified from Leishmania infantum plus saponin showed a specific production of IFN-γ, IL-12 and GM-CSF after in vitro stimulation with L. infantum ribosomal proteins. Vaccinated mice showed a reduction in the liver and spleen parasite burdens after L. chagasi infection. After L. amazonensis challenge, vaccinated mice showed a decrease of the dermal pathology and a reduction in the parasite loads in the footpad and spleen. In both models, protection was correlated to an IL-12-dependent production of IFN-γ by CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells that activate macrophages for the synthesis of NO. In the protected mice a decrease in the parasite-mediated IL-4 and IL-10 responses was also observed. In mice challenged with L. amazonensis, lower levels of anti-parasite-specific antibodies were detected. Thus, Leishmania ribosomal proteins plus saponin fits the requirements to compose a pan-Leishmania vaccine.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2010 · Microbes and Infection