The accomplishments of the section are: 1. We identified a sand fly salivary protein vaccine that protects non-human primates against vector-transmitted cutaneous leishmaniasis In rodents, cellular immunity to salivary proteins of sand fly vectors is associated to protection against leishmaniasis, making them worthy targets for further exploration as vaccines. We demonstrate that nonhuman primates (NHP) exposed to Phlebotomus duboscqi uninfected sand fly bites or immunized with salivary protein PdSP15 are protected against cutaneous leishmaniasis initiated by infected bites. Uninfected sand fly-exposed and 7 of 10 PdSP15-immunized rhesus macaques displayed a significant reduction in disease and parasite burden compared to controls. Protection correlated to the early appearance of Leishmania-specific CD4(+)IFN-γ(+) lymphocytes, suggesting that immunity to saliva or PdSP15 augments the host immune response to the parasites while maintaining minimal pathology. Notably, the 30% unprotected PdSP15-immunized NHP developed neither immunity to PdSP15 nor an accelerated Leishmania-specific immunity. Sera and peripheral blood mononuclear cells from individuals naturally exposed to P. duboscqi bites recognized PdSP15, demonstrating its immunogenicity in humans. PdSP15 sequence and structure show no homology to mammalian proteins, further demonstrating its potential as a component of a vaccine for human leishmaniasis. 1. We discovered that nucleosides in the saliva of Phlebotomus sand flies induce immunossuppression and consequently promote Leishmania infection We identified adenosine (ADO) and adenosine monophosphate (AMP) as active pharmacologic compounds present in Phlebotomus papatasi saliva that inhibit dendritic cell (DC) functions through a PGE2/IL 10-dependent mechanism. We prepared a mixture of ADO and AMP in equimolar amounts similar to those present in the salivary-gland extract (SGE) form one pair of salivary glands of P. papatasi and co-injected it with Leishmania amazonensis or L. major into mouse ears. ADO+AMP mimicked exacerbative effects of P. papatasi saliva in leishmaniasis, increasing parasite burden and cutaneous lesions. Enzymatic catabolism of salivary nucleosides reversed the SGE-induced immunosuppressive effect associated with IL-10 enhancement. Immunosuppressive factors COX2 and IL-10 were upregulated and failed to enhance ear lesion and parasite burden in IL 10-/- infected mice. Furthermore, nucleosides increased regulatory T cell (Treg) marker expression on CD4+CD25- cells, suggesting induction of Tregs on effector T cells (T eff). Treg induction (iTreg) was associated with nucleoside-induced tolerogenic dendritic cells (tDCs) expressing higher levels of COX2 and IL-10. In vitro generation of Tregs was more efficient in DCs treated with nucleosides. Suppressive effects of nucleosides during cutaneous leishmaniasis were mediated through an A2AR-dependent mechanism. Using BALB/c mice deficient in A2A ADO receptor (A2AR-/-), we showed that co-inoculated mice controlled infection, displaying lower parasite numbers at infection sites and reduced iTreg generation. These data demonstrate that ADO and AMP in P. papatasi saliva mediate exacerbative effects of Leishmania infection by acting preferentially on DCs promoting a tolerogenic profile in DCs and by generating iTregs in inflammatory foci through an A2AR mechanism. 3. - We used successfully the recombinant salivary protein PpSP32, as a marker of vector exposure in field conditions in various regions of Saudi Arabia to study the correlation between saliva immunity and disease manifestation. The sand fly Phlebotomus papatasi is the vector of Leishmania major, the main causative agent of Old World cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) in Saudi Arabia. Sandflies inject saliva while feeding and the salivary protein PpSP32 was previously shown to be a biomarker for bite exposure. Here we used recombinant PpSP32 to evaluate human exposure to Ph. papatasi bites, and study the association between antibody response to saliva and CL in endemic areas in Saudi Arabia. In this observational study, anti-PpSP32 antibodies, as indicators of exposure to sand fly bites, were measured in sera from healthy individuals and patients from endemic regions in Saudi Arabia with active and cured CL. Ph. papatasi was identified as the primary CL vector in the study area. Anti-PpSP32 antibody levels were significantly higher in CL patients presenting active infections from all geographical regions compared to CL cured and healthy individuals. Furthermore, higher anti-PpSP32 antibody levels correlated with the prevalence and type of CL lesions (nodular vs. papular) observed in patients, especially non-local construction workers. Our findings suggest a possible correlation between the type of immunity generated by the exposure to sand fly bites and disease outcome.

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