Multicomponent synthetic vaccines containing both B and T cell epitopes belonging to two different pre-erythrocytic Ag of Plasmodium falciparum are presented. In a di-component hybrid, a circumsporozoite T cell epitope and a peptide representing a liver stage-specific Ag were connected to obtain a reciprocal reinforcement of helical potentials. In a tri-component hybrid, a sequence corresponding to the circumsporozoite repeat tetrapeptide (NPNA) was tandemly synthesized on the N-terminal end of the di-component hybrid. Both hybrid molecules were able to adopt a partial helical conformation in water as determined by circular dichroism studies. To analyze if the different components were immunologically functional in these vaccines, mich bearing genetic backgrounds known to respond or not to the individual components were immunized with the hybrids. The tri-hybrid peptide showed high immunogenic capacity as it elicited, in both H-2b and H-2k mice, high antibody responses against every separate individual sequence. Moreover, the antibodies induced by these conformationally restricted peptides were able to recognize the corresponding native proteins in the liver schizont and the sporozoite surface. H-2d mice, in which the immune response to the individual components was genetically restricted, did respond against the di-hybrid peptide. The tri-hybrid peptide, in which NPNA repeats were present, lacked this H-2d-priming capacity but it triggered antibody production in H-2d mice previously primed with the di-hybrid peptide. These results indicate that multivalent vaccines can provide positive (potentiating) effects by carefully combining structurally well defined epitopes; however, negative (suppressive) effects are also possible suggesting that selection of multivalent vaccine components will require testing of combined molecules to optimize specific immune responses and avoid undesirable effects which may result from negative molecular interactions.

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