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SjHSP70, a recombinant Schistosoma japonicum heat shock protein 70, is immunostimulatory and induces protective immunity against cercarial challenge in mice


High levels of protective immunity can be induced in different animals immunized with radiation-attenuated (RA) Schistosoma cercariae or schistosomula. However, the schistosome-derived molecules responsible for the strong protective effect elicited by RA schistosome larvae have not been identified or characterized. The 70-kDa heat shock proteins of schistosomes are considered major immunogens, and may play an important role in stimulating high levels of innate and adaptive immune responses in an RA schistosome vaccine model. Here, we demonstrate the immunobiological functions of Schistosoma japonicum heat shock protein 70 (SjHSP70) by investigating its expression profile in RA-schistosomula-derived cells, evaluating the protection induced by recombinant SjHSP70 (rSjHSP70) against cercarial challenge, and assaying the humoral and cellular immune responses to rSjHSP70 in BALB/c and C57BL/6 mice. The expression of SjHSP70 on the surfaces of cells from RA or normal schistosomula was determined with flow cytometry. Its expression was significantly higher on early RA schistosomula cells than on the cells from normal parasites. The protection afforded both BALB/c and C57BL/6 mice vaccinated with rSjHSP70 alone, rSj22.6 (a membrane-anchoring protein of S. japonicum) alone, or a combination of rSj22.6 and rSjHSP70 without adjuvant was evaluated. rSjHSP70 alone induced the highest protective effect against S. japonicum cercarial challenge, followed by the rSj22.6 plus rSjHSP70 combination and then rSj22.6 alone, in both mouse strains. Like ISA206 adjuvant, rSjHSP70 enhanced the protective efficacy induced by rSj22.6 in the C57BL/6 mouse strain. Antigen-specific IgG1 and IgG2a responses were detected with enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays in mice immunized with rSjHSP70 alone, rSj22.6 alone, or the rSj22.6 plus rSjHSP70 combination. Immunization with rSjHSP70 or the rSj22.6 plus rSjHSP70 combination induced mixed Th1/Th2-type antibody responses in BALB/c mice and a Th2-type antibody response in C57BL/6 mice. The profiles of cytokine production by splenic lymphocytes in both strains of mice immunized with the antigens described above were detected in vitro using a Cytometric Bead Array. The profiles of the proinflammatory cytokines interferon γ, tumor necrosis factor α, interleukin 6 (IL-6), and IL-17A and the regulatory cytokine IL-10 induced by the rSj22.6 plus rSjHSP70 combination were similar to those induced by rSj22.6 emulsified with the ISA206 adjuvant control. Like the ISA206 adjuvant, rSjHSP70 protein enhanced the proinflammatory and Th2-type or regulatory cytokine production induced by the rSj22.6 antigen. These results indicate that SjHSP70 is exposed on the surfaces of cells from RA schistosomula, and that rSjHSP70 protein is a promising protective antigen with a potential adjuvant function. Thus, SjHSP70 protein might play a key role in the protective immunity elicited by the RA schistosome vaccine.

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This study was supported by the Fund on Basic Scientific Research Project of Nonprofit Central Research Institutions of China (grant no. 2013JB15) and the Fund on Sci & Tech Innovation Program of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

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Correspondence to Xin Gang Feng.

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Ming Ming Duan and Rui Min Xu contributed equally to this work.

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Duan, M.M., Xu, R.M., Yuan, C.X. et al. SjHSP70, a recombinant Schistosoma japonicum heat shock protein 70, is immunostimulatory and induces protective immunity against cercarial challenge in mice. Parasitol Res 114, 3415–3429 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00436-015-4567-z

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  • Heat shock protein 70
  • Schistosoma japonicum
  • Immunostimulation
  • Adjuvant