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Keywords:

  • Leishmania major;
  • Plasmacytoid dendritic cells;
  • T helper cell response;
  • Vaccination

Abstract

DC-based vaccination against Leishmania major induces a parasite-specific Th1 response and long-lasting protective immunity in susceptible mice. Since distinct DC subsets have been proposed to direct the predominant development of either Th1 or Th2 cells, we analyzed the capability of plasmacytoid DC (pDC) to induce protection and elicit a Th1 response against L. major. Pulsing with L. major lysate induced the activation and maturation of semi-mature murine pDC that had been isolated from the spleen, as indicated by up-regulation of the co-stimulatory molecules CD86 and CD80, but did not enhance the level of IFN-α secretion by pDC. Vaccination of susceptible mice with L. major lysate-pulsed pDC induced highly effective T cell-mediated immunity against subsequent infection with L. major parasites. Surprisingly, the protection was not accompanied by a polarized Th1 cytokine profile. Co-activation of pDC with CpG-containing oligodeoxynucleotides, which has been shown to be critical for activating the protective potential of myeloid DC, was not required for the protective effect of L. major antigen-pulsed pDC. These findings demonstrate that antigen-loaded pDC are able to induce T cell-mediated protection against a parasite disease and that experimental leishmaniasis is a suitable model to elucidate the mechanisms underlying DC-based vaccination against infections.