Induction of effective immunity against Trypanosoma cruzi

Tere Williams, Ignacio Guerrero-Ros, Yanfen Ma, Fabiane Matos Dos Santos, Philipp E. Scherer, Ruth Gordillo, Aline Horta, Fernando Macian, Louis M. Weiss, Huan Huang

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6 Scopus citations


Chagas disease, caused by Trypanosoma cruzi, is a major public health issue. Limitations in immune responses to natural T. cruzi infection usually result in parasite persistence with significant complications. A safe, effective, and reliable vaccine would reduce the threat of T. cruzi infections; however, no suitable vaccine is currently available due to a lack of understanding of the requirements for induction of fully protective immunity. We established a T. cruzi strain expressing green fluorescent protein (GFP) under the control of dihydrofolate reductase degradation domain (DDD) with a hemagglutinin (HA) tag, GFP-DDDHA, which was induced by trimethoprim-lactate (TMP-lactate), which results in the death of intracellular parasites. This attenuated strain induces very strong protection against reinfection. Using this GFP-DDDHA strain, we investigated the mechanisms underlying the protective immune response in mice. Immunization with this strain led to a response that included high levels of gamma interferon (IFN-γ) and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), as well as a rapid expansion of effector and memory T cells in the spleen. More CD8+ T cells differentiate to memory cells following GFP-DDDHA infection than after infection with a wild-type (WT) strain. The GFP-DDDHA strain also provides cross-protection against another T. cruzi isolate. IFN-γ is important in mediating the protection, as IFN-γ knockout (KO) mice failed to acquire protection when infected with the GFP-DDDHA strain. Immune cells demonstrated earlier and stronger protective responses in immunized mice after reinfection with T. cruzi than those in naive mice. Adoptive transfers with several types of immune cells or with serum revealed that several branches of the immune system mediated protection. A combination of serum and natural killer cells provided the most effective protection against infection in these transfer experiments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00908-19
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020


  • Immunity
  • Immunization
  • Trypanosoma cruzi

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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