Anand, S., & Madhubala, R. (2015). Genetically Engineered Ascorbic acid-deficient Live Mutants of Leishmania donovani induce long lasting Protective Immunity against Visceral Leishmaniasis. Scientific Reports, 10706. https://doi.org/10.1038/srep10706
ABSTRACT:Visceral leishmaniasis caused by Leishmania donovani is the most severe systemic form of the disease. There are still no vaccines available for humans and there are limitations associated with the current therapeutic regimens for leishmaniasis. Recently, we reported functional importance of Arabino-1, 4-lactone oxidase (ALO) enzyme from L. donovani involved in ascorbate biosynthesis pathway. In this study, we have shown that ΔALO parasites do not affect the ability of null mutants to invade visceral organs but severely impair parasite persistence beyond 16 week in BALB/c mice and hence are safe as an immunogen. Both short term (5 week) and long term (20 week) immunization with ΔALO parasites conferred sustained protection against virulent challenge in BALB/c mice, activated splenocytes and resulted in induction of pro-inflammatory cytokine response. Protection in immunized mice after challenge correlated with the stimulation of IFN-γ producing CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. Antigen-mediated cell immunity correlated with robust nitrite and superoxide generation, macrophage-derived oxidants critical in controlling Leishmania infection. Our data shows that live attenuated ΔALO parasites are safe, induce protective immunity and can provide sustained protection against Leishmania donovani. We further conclude that the parasites attenuated in their anti-oxidative defence mechanism can be exploited as vaccine candidates.