Interleukin 12 (IL-12) plays an important role in the induction of protective immunity against cancer and infectious diseases. In this study we asked whether IL-12 cDNA could increase the protective capacity of the antigen 2 (Ag2) gene vaccine in experimental coccidioidomycosis. Coimmunization of BALB/c mice with a single-chain IL-12 cDNA (p40-L-p35) and Ag2 cDNA, both subcloned into the pVR1012 plasmid, significantly enhanced protection against systemic challenge with 2,500 arthroconidia, as evidenced by a greater-than-1-3-log-unit reduction in the fungal load in the lungs and spleens compared to mice receiving the pVR1012 vector alone, Ag2 cDNA alone, or IL-12 cDNA alone. The enhanced protection was associated with increased gamma interferon secretion; production of immunoglobulin G2a (IgG2a), IgG2b, and IgG3 antibodies to Coccidioides immitis antigen; and the influx of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in lungs and spleens. When challenged by the pulmonary route, mice covaccinated with Ag2 cDNA and IL-12 cDNA were not protected at the lung level but did show a significant reduction in the fungal load in their livers and spleens compared to mice vaccinated with Ag2 cDNA or IL-12 cDNA alone. These results suggest that IL-12 acts as a therapeutic adjuvant to enhance Ag2 cDNA-induced protective immunity against experimental coccidioidomycosis through the induction of Th1-associated immune responses.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases