Chagas disease is a chronic and potentially lethal disorder caused by the parasite , and an effective treatment has not been developed for chronic Chagas disease. The objective of this study was to determine the effectiveness of a therapeutic DNA vaccine containing genes in dogs with experimentally induced Chagas disease through clinical, pathological, and immunological analyses. Infection of Beagle dogs with the H8 strain was performed intraperitoneally with 3500 metacyclic trypomastigotes/kg body weight. Two weeks after infection, plasmid DNA immunotherapy was administered thrice at 15-day intervals. The clinical (physical and cabinet studies), immunological (antibody and cytokine profiles and lymphoproliferation), and macro- and microscopic pathological findings were described. A significant increase in IgG and cell proliferation was recorded after immunotherapy, and the highest stimulation index (3.02) was observed in dogs treated with the pBCSSP4 plasmid. The second treatment with both plasmids induced an increase in IL-1, and the third treatment with the pBCSSP4 plasmid induced an increase in IL-6. The pBCSP plasmid had a good Th1 response regulated by high levels of IFN-gamma and TNF-alpha, whereas the combination of the two plasmids did not have a synergistic effect. Electrocardiographic studies registered lower abnormalities and the lowest number of individuals with abnormalities in each group treated with the therapeutic vaccine. Echocardiograms showed that the pBCSSP4 plasmid immunotherapy preserved cardiac structure and function to a greater extent and prevented cardiomegaly. The two plasmids alone controlled the infection moderately by a reduction in the inflammatory infiltrates in heart tissue. The immunotherapy was able to reduce the magnitude of cardiac lesions and modulate the cellular immune response; the pBCSP treatment showed a clear Th1 response; and pBCSSP4 induced a balanced Th1/Th2 immune response that prevented severe cardiac involvement. The pBCSSP4 plasmid had a better effect on most of the parameters evaluated in this study; therefore, this plasmid can be considered an optional treatment against Chagas disease in naturally infected dogs.
Copyright © 2020 Minerva Arce-Fonseca et al.