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Keywords:

  • Ancylostoma;
  • neutrophil inhibitory factor (NIF);
  • excretory–secretory products;
  • purification;
  • vaccination

Neutrophil inhibitory factor (NIF), a protein isolated from hookworms of the genus Ancylostoma, inhibits CD11b/18-dependent leucocyte function, binding to the I domain of CD11b. Historically, NIF was serendipitously isolated from whole worm extracts during a search for novel antihaemostatic agents, and little is known of its source or biological significance to the parasite. NIF has also been identified as a possible hookworm vaccine candidate. Ancylostomaceylanicum recombinant NIF, expressed in its active form in Pichia pastoris, was purified and its functional activity confirmed using neutrophil adhesion assays and confirmatory immunoassay. Recombinant NIF was subsequently used in vaccination trials in the A. ceylanicum-hamster model system for human hookworm infection. Vaccinated and challenged animals were not protected in terms of worm burden or haematocrit values, despite the presence of high levels of specific antibody against NIF. However, adult worms resident in vaccinated animals showed a significant reduction in fecundity (85·8% by day 21 postinfection), indicating a degree of protection against subsequent transmission by vaccination. These data indicate that targeted vaccination with recombinant subunit material, derived from a known and effective immune suppressant secreted by the parasite, may offer partial protection against the transmission of hookworm infection. Furthermore, we can also report that a biological activity characteristic of NIF is detectable in the secretions of A.ceylanicum using two complementary bioassays. Complete neutralization of this secreted activity by vaccination in combination with other vaccine candidates may result in improved protection against A. ceylanicum infection.