The gene encoding the 60-kDa heat shock protein of Plasmodium yoelii (PyHsp60) was cloned into the VR1012 and VR1020 mammalian expression vectors. Groups of 10 BALB/c mice were immunized intramuscularly at 0, 3, and 9 weeks with 100 μg of PyHsp60 DNA vaccine alone or in combination with 30 μg of pmurGMCSF. Sera from immunized mice but not from vector control groups recognized P. yoelii sporozoites, liver stages, and infected erythrocytes in an indirect fluorescent antibody test. Two weeks after the last immunization, mice were challenged with 50 P. yoelii sporozoites. In one experiment the vaccine pPyHsp60-VR1012 used in combination with pmurGMCSF gave 40% protection (Fisher's exact test; P = 0.03, vaccinated versus control groups). In a second experiment this vaccine did not protect any of the immunized mice but induced a delay in the onset of parasitemia. In neither experiment was there any evidence of a protective effect against the asexual erythrocytic stage of the life cycle. In a third experiment mice were primed with PyHsp60 DNA, were boosted 2 weeks later with 2 × 103 irradiated P. yoelii sporozoites, and were challenged several weeks later. The presence of PyHsp60 in the immunization regimen did not lead to reduced blood-stage infection or development of parasites in hepatocytes. PyHsp60 DNA vaccines were immunogenic in BALB/c mice but did not consistently, completely protect against sporozoite challenge. The observation that in some of the PyHsp60 DNA vaccine-immunized mice there was protection against infection or a delay in the onset of parasitemia after sporozoite challenge deserves further evaluation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases