In this study, we evaluated the ability of DNA vaccines encoding the bacterioferritin (BFR) or P39 proteins of Brucella spp. to induce cellular and humoral immune responses and to protect BALB/c mice against a challenge with B. abortus 544. We constructed eukaryotic expression vectors called pCIBFR and pCIP39, encoding BFR or P39 antigens, respectively, and we verified that these proteins were produced after transfection of COS-7 cells. PCIBFR or pCIP39 was injected intramuscularly three times, at 3-week intervals, pCIP39 induced higher antibody responses than did the DNA vector encoding BFR. Both vectors elicited a T-cell-proliferative response and also induced a strong gamma interferon production upon restimulation with either the specific antigens or Brucella extract. In this report, we also demonstrat that animals immunized with these plasmids elicited a strong and long-lived memory immune response which persisted at least 3 months after the third vaccination. Furthermore, pCIBFR and pCIP39 induced a typical T-helper 1-dominated immune response in mice, as determined by cytokine or immunoglobulin G isotype analysis. The pCIP39 delivered by intramuscular injection (but not the pCIBFR or control vectors) induced a moderate protection in BALB/c mice challenged with B. abortus 544 compared to that observed in positive control mice vaccinated with S19.
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