Vaccines to combat river blindness: expression, selection and formulation of vaccines against infection with Onchocerca volvulus in a mouse model.
ABSTRACT: Human onchocerciasis is a neglected tropical disease caused by Onchocerca volvulus and an important cause of blindness and chronic disability in the developing world. Although mass drug administration of ivermectin has had a profound effect on control of the disease, additional tools are critically needed including the need for a vaccine against onchocerciasis. The objectives of the present study were to: (i) select antigens with known vaccine pedigrees as components of a vaccine; (ii) produce the selected vaccine antigens under controlled conditions, using two expression systems and in one laboratory and (iii) evaluate their vaccine efficacy using a single immunisation protocol in mice. In addition, we tested the hypothesis that joining protective antigens as a fusion protein or in combination, into a multivalent vaccine, would improve the ability of the vaccine to induce protective immunity. Out of eight vaccine candidates tested in this study, Ov-103, Ov-RAL-2 and Ov-CPI-2M were shown to reproducibly induce protective immunity when administered individually, as fusion proteins or in combination. Although there was no increase in the level of protective immunity induced by combining the antigens into one vaccine, these antigens remain strong candidates for inclusion in a vaccine to control onchocerciasis in humans.
Project description:BACKGROUND:In some regions in Africa, elimination of onchocerciasis may be possible with mass drug administration, although there is concern based on several factors that onchocerciasis cannot be eliminated solely through this approach. A vaccine against Onchocerca volvulus would provide a critical tool for the ultimate elimination of this infection. Previous studies have demonstrated that immunization of mice with Ov-103 and Ov-RAL-2, when formulated with alum, induced protective immunity. It was hypothesized that the levels of protective immunity induced with the two recombinant antigens formulated with alum would be improved by formulation with other adjuvants known to enhance different types of antigen-specific immune responses. METHODOLOGY/ PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:Immunizing mice with Ov-103 and Ov-RAL-2 in conjunction with alum, Advax 2 and MF59 induced significant levels of larval killing and host protection. The immune response was biased towards Th2 with all three of the adjuvants, with IgG1 the dominant antibody. Improved larval killing and host protection was observed in mice immunized with co-administered Ov-103 and Ov-RAL-2 in conjunction with each of the three adjuvants as compared to single immunizations. Antigen-specific antibody titers were significantly increased in mice immunized concurrently with the two antigens. Based on chemokine levels, it appears that neutrophils and eosinophils participate in the protective immune response induced by Ov-103, and macrophages and neutrophils participate in immunity induced by Ov-RAL-2. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE:The mechanism of protective immunity induced by Ov-103 and Ov-RAL-2, with the adjuvants alum, Advax 2 and MF59, appears to be multifactorial with roles for cytokines, chemokines, antibody and specific effector cells. The vaccines developed in this study have the potential of reducing the morbidity associated with onchocerciasis in humans.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>The current strategy for the elimination of onchocerciasis is based on annual or bi-annual mass drug administration with ivermectin. However, due to several limiting factors there is a growing concern that elimination of onchocerciasis cannot be achieved solely through the current strategy. Additional tools are critically needed including a prophylactic vaccine. Presently Ov-103 and Ov-RAL-2 are the most promising vaccine candidates against an Onchocerca volvulus infection.<h4>Methodology/principal findings</h4>Protection induced by immunization of mice with the alum-adjuvanted Ov-103 or Ov-RAL-2 vaccines appeared to be antibody dependent since AID-/- mice that could not mount antigen-specific IgG antibody responses were not protected from an Onchocerca volvulus challenge. To determine a possible association between antigen-specific antibody responses and anti-larvae protective immunity in humans, we analyzed the presence of anti-Ov-103 and anti-Ov-RAL-2 cytophilic antibody responses (IgG1 and IgG3) in individuals classified as putatively immune, and in infected individuals who developed concomitant immunity with age. It was determined that 86% of putatively immune individuals and 95% individuals with concomitant immunity had elevated IgG1 and IgG3 responses to Ov-103 and Ov-RAL-2. Based on the elevated chemokine levels associated with protection in the Ov-103 or Ov-RAL-2 immunized mice, the profile of these chemokines was also analyzed in putatively immune and infected individuals; both groups contained significantly higher levels of KC, IP-10, MCP-1 and MIP-1? in comparison to normal human sera. Moreover, human monospecific anti-Ov-103 antibodies but not anti-Ov-RAL-2 significantly inhibited the molting of third-stage larvae (L3) in vitro by 46% in the presence of naïve human neutrophils, while both anti-Ov-103 and anti-Ov-RAL-2 antibodies significantly inhibited the molting by 70-80% when cultured in the presence of naive human monocytes. Interestingly, inhibition of molting by Ov-103 antibodies and monocytes was only in part dependent on contact with the cells, while inhibition of molting with Ov-RAL-2 antibodies was completely dependent on contact with the monocytes. In comparison, significant levels of parasite killing in Ov-103 and Ov-RAL-2 vaccinated mice only occurred when cells enter the parasite microenvironment. Taken together, antibodies to Ov-103 and Ov-RAL-2 and cells are required for protection in mice as well as for the development of immunity in humans.<h4>Conclusions/significance</h4>Alum-adjuvanted Ov-103 and Ov-RAL-2 vaccines have the potential of reducing infection and thus morbidity associated with onchocerciasis in humans. The development of cytophilic antibodies, that function in antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity, is essential for a successful prophylactic vaccine against this infection.
Project description:Despite considerable efforts, a suitable vaccine against Onchocerca volvulus infection has remained elusive. Herein, we report on the use of molecular tools to identify and characterize O. volvulus antigens that are possibly associated with the development of concomitant immunity in onchocerciasis.Third-stage larvae (L3) and molting L3 (mL3) O. volvulus stage-specific cDNA libraries were screened with a pool of sera from chronically infected patients who had likely developed such immunity. The 87 immunoreactive clones isolated were grouped into 20 distinct proteins of which 12 had already been cloned and/or characterized before and 4 had been proven to be protective in a small O. volvulus animal model. One of these, onchocystatin (Ov-CPI-2), a previously characterized O. volvulus cysteine proteinase inhibitor was, overall, the most abundant clone recognized by the immune sera in both the L3 and mL3 cDNA libraries. To further characterize its association with protective immunity, we measured the IgG subclass and IgE class specific responses to the antigen in putatively immune (PI) and infected (INF) individuals living in a hyperendemic area in Cameroon. It appeared that both groups had similar IgG3 and IgE responses to the antigen, but the INF had significantly higher IgG1 and IgG4 responses than the PI individuals (p<0.05). In the INF group, the IgG3 levels increased significantly with the age of the infected individuals (r = 0.241; p<0.01). The IgG1 responses in the INF were high regardless of age. Notably, culturing L3 in vitro in the presence of anti-Ov-CPI-2 monospecific human antibodies and naïve neutrophils resulted in almost complete inhibition of molting of L3 to L4 and to cytotoxicity to the larvae.These results add to the knowledge of protective immunity in onchocerciasis and support the possible involvement of anti-Ov-CPI-2 IgG1 and/or IgG3 cytophilic antibodies in the development of protective immunity in the PI and the INF. The results further support the consideration of Ov-CPI-2 as a leading target for an anti-L3 vaccine.
Project description:Onchocerciasis, an infection caused by the filarial nematode Onchocerca volvulus, is a major public health concern. Given the debilitating symptoms associated with onchocerciasis and concerns about recrudescence in areas of previous onchocerciasis control, more efficient tools are needed for diagnosis and monitoring of control measures. We investigated whether luciferase immunoprecipitation systems (LIPS) may be used as a more rapid, specific, and standardized diagnostic assay for Onchocerca volvulus infection.Four recombinantly produced Onchocerca volvulus antigens (Ov-FAR-1, Ov-API-1, Ov-MSA-1 and Ov-CPI-1) were tested by LIPS on a large cohort of blinded sera comprised of both uninfected controls and patients with a proven parasitic infection including Onchocerca volvulus (Ov), Wuchereria bancrofti (Wb), Loa loa (Ll), Strongyloides stercoralis (Ss), and with other potentially cross-reactive infections. In addition to testing all four Ov antigens separately, a mixture that tested all four antigens simultaneously was evaluated in the standard 2-hour incubation format as well as in a 15-minute rapid LIPS format.Antibody responses to the four different Ov antigens allowed for unequivocal differentiation between Ov-infected and uninfected control sera with 100% sensitivity and 100% specificity. Analysis of the antibody titers to each of these four antigens in individual Ov-infected sera revealed that they were markedly different and did not correlate (r(S) = -0.11 to 0.58; P = 0.001 to 0.89) to each other. Compared to Ov-infected sera, patients infected with Wb, Ll, Ss, and other conditions had markedly lower geometric mean antibody titers to each of the Ov 4 antigens (P<0.0002 for each antigen). The simplified method of using a mixture of the 4 Ov antigens simultaneously in the standard format or a quick 15-minute format (QLIPS) showed 100% sensitivity and 100% specificity in distinguishing the Ov-infected sera from the uninfected control sera. Finally, the QLIPS format had the best performance with 100% sensitivity and specificity values of 76%, 84% and 93% for distinguishing Ov from Wb, Ll and Ss-infected sera.The multi-antigen LIPS assay can be used as a rapid, high throughput, and specific tool to not only to diagnose individual Ov infections but also as a sensitive and potentially point-of-care method for early detection of recrudescent infections in areas under control and for mapping new areas of transmission of Ov infection.
Project description:This study tests the hypothesis that an Onchocerca volvulus vaccine, consisting of two recombinant antigens (Ov-103 and Ov-RAL-2) formulated with the combination-adjuvant Advax-2, can induce protective immunity in genetically diverse Collaborative Cross recombinant inbred intercross mice (CC-RIX). CC-RIX lines were immunized with the O. volvulus vaccine and challenged with third-stage larvae. Equal and significant reductions in parasite survival were observed in 7 of 8 CC-RIX lines. Innate protective immunity was seen in the single CC-RIX line that did not demonstrate protective adaptive immunity. Analysis of a wide array of immune factors showed that each line of mice have a unique set of immune responses to vaccination and challenge suggesting that the vaccine is polyfunctional, inducing different equally-protective sets of immune responses based on the genetic background of the immunized host. Vaccine efficacy in genetically diverse mice suggests that it will also be effective in genetically complex human populations.
Project description:In our previous study, a proteome-wide screen was conducted to identify linear epitopes in this parasite's proteome, resulting in the discovery of three immunodominant motifs. Here, we investigated whether such antigenic peptides were found in proteins that were already known as vaccine candidates and excretome/secretome proteins for Onchocerca volvulus This approach led to the identification of 71 immunoreactive stretches in 46 proteins. A deep-dive into the immunoreactivity profiles of eight vaccine candidates that were chosen as most promising candidates for further development (Ov-CPI-2, Ov-ALT-1, Ov-RAL-2, Ov-ASP-1, Ov-103, Ov-RBP-1, Ov-CHI-1, and Ov-B20), resulted in the identification of a poly-glutamine stretch in Ov-RAL-2 that has properties for use as a serodiagnostic marker for O. volvulus infection. A peptide ELISA was developed, and the performance of this assay was evaluated. Based on this assessment, it was found that this assay has a sensitivity of 75.0% [95% CI: 64.9%-83.5%] and a specificity of 98.5% [95% CI: 94.6%-99.8%]. Furthermore, 8.7% reactivity in Asian parasite-infected individuals (8 out of 92) was observed. Besides this identification of a linear epitope marker, the information on the presence of linear epitopes in vaccine candidate proteins might be useful in the study of vaccines for river blindness.
Project description:We have developed a serologically based immunophenotyping approach to study Onchocerca volvulus (Ov) population diversity. Using genomic sequence data and polymerase chain reaction-based genotyping, we identified nonsynonymous single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the genes of 16 major immunogenic Ov proteins: Ov-CHI-1/Ov-CHI-2, Ov16, Ov-FAR-1, Ov-CPI-1, Ov-B20, Ov-ASP-1, Ov-TMY-1, OvSOD1, OvGST1, Ov-CAL-1, M3/M4, Ov-RAL-1, Ov-RAL-2, Ov-ALT-1, Ov-FBA-1, and Ov-B8. We assessed the immunoreactivity of onchocerciasis patient sera (n = 152) from the Americas, West Africa, Central Africa, and East Africa against peptides derived from 10 of these proteins containing SNPs. Statistically significant variation in immunoreactivity among the regions was seen in SNP-containing peptides derived from 8 of 10 proteins tested: OVOC1192(1-15), OVOC9988(28-42), OVOC9225(320-334), OVOC7453(22-36), OVOC11517(14-28), OVOC3177(283-297), OVOC7911(594-608), and OVOC12628(174-188). Our data show that differences in immunoreactivity to variant antigenic peptides may be used to characterize Ov populations, thereby elucidating features of Ov population biology previously inaccessible because of the limited availability of parasite material.
Project description:Onchocerciasis (river blindness) is a neglected tropical disease that has been successfully targeted by mass drug treatment programs in the Americas and small parts of Africa. Achieving the long-term goal of elimination of onchocerciasis, however, requires additional tools, including drugs, vaccines, and biomarkers of infection. Here, we describe the transcriptome and proteome profiles of the major vector and the human host stages (L1, L2, L3, molting L3, L4, adult male, and adult female) of Onchocerca volvulus along with the proteome of each parasitic stage and of its Wolbachia endosymbiont (wOv). In so doing, we have identified stage-specific pathways important to the parasite's adaptation to its human host during its early development. Further, we generated a protein array that, when screened with well-characterized human samples, identified novel diagnostic biomarkers of O. volvulus infection and new potential vaccine candidates. This immunomic approach not only demonstrates the power of this postgenomic discovery platform but also provides additional tools for onchocerciasis control programs.<h4>Importance</h4>The global onchocerciasis (river blindness) elimination program will have to rely on the development of new tools (drugs, vaccines, biomarkers) to achieve its goals by 2025. As an adjunct to the completed genomic sequencing of O. volvulus, we used a comprehensive proteomic and transcriptomic profiling strategy to gain a comprehensive understanding of both the vector-derived and human host-derived parasite stages. In so doing, we have identified proteins and pathways that enable novel drug targeting studies and the discovery of novel vaccine candidates, as well as useful biomarkers of active infection.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Elimination of onchocerciasis (river blindness) through mass administration of ivermectin in the six countries in Latin America where it is endemic is considered feasible due to the relatively small size and geographic isolation of endemic foci. We evaluated whether transmission of onchocerciasis has been interrupted in the endemic focus of Escuintla-Guatemala in Guatemala, based on World Health Organization criteria for the certification of elimination of onchocerciasis.<h4>Methodology/principal findings</h4>We conducted evaluations of ocular morbidity and past exposure to Onchocerca volvulus in the human population, while potential vectors (Simulium ochraceum) were captured and tested for O. volvulus DNA; all of the evaluations were carried out in potentially endemic communities (PEC; those with a history of actual or suspected transmission or those currently under semiannual mass treatment with ivermectin) within the focus. The prevalence of microfilariae in the anterior segment of the eye in 329 individuals (> or =7 years old, resident in the PEC for at least 5 years) was 0% (one-sided 95% confidence interval [CI] 0-0.9%). The prevalence of antibodies to a recombinant O. volvulus antigen (Ov-16) in 6,432 school children (aged 6 to 12 years old) was 0% (one-sided 95% IC 0-0.05%). Out of a total of 14,099 S. ochraceum tested for O. volvulus DNA, none was positive (95% CI 0-0.01%). The seasonal transmission potential was, therefore, 0 infective stage larvae per person per season.<h4>Conclusions/significance</h4>Based on these evaluations, transmission of onchocerciasis in the Escuintla-Guatemala focus has been successfully interrupted. Although this is the second onchocerciasis focus in Latin America to have demonstrated interruption of transmission, it is the first focus with a well-documented history of intense transmission to have eliminated O. volvulus.
Project description:This data is part of a pre-publication release. For information on the proper use of pre-publication data shared by the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute (including details of any publication moratoria), please see http://www.sanger.ac.uk/datasharing/ Onchocerca volvulus is a filarial nematode parasite of humans, causing Onchocerciasis, or River Blindness, which affects over 37 million people, mainly in Africa. It is a severely debilitating disease, which is transmitted to humans by black fly. This project aims to undertake high-throughput sequencing of Onchocerca volvulus transcriptome for de novo assembly of transcripts. The main objective of this project is to recognize genes expressed in given life stages.