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The causative agent of toxoplasmosis, Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii), is able to influence the health of humans and other vertebrates. Toxoplasma may cause severe illness in the fetus and immunocompromised individuals. The high incidence and intense damages of Toxoplasma infection clearly shows the need to achieve the safe and suitable vaccine. In this study, an immunoinformatics approach was employed to design a multi-epitope DNA vaccine encoding the T. gondii SAG1, SAG3 and SAG5. The bioinformatic outputs supported the immunogenic and non-allergic natures of multi-epitope vaccine. Thereafter, the protective efficacy of the vaccine was evaluated with/without CpG-ODN adjuvant in a laboratory animal model. BALB/c mice were immunized subcutaneously with multi-epitope DNA vaccine. The in vivo findings indicated that the multi-epitope DNA vaccine elicited significant production of IgG antibodies (472.90 ± 2.74 ng/ml) as well as IFN-γ (173.71 ± 26.39 pg/ml) (p < 0.001). Moreover, a significant reduced parasite-burden (17,470 per mg of spleen) and prolonged survival time (9 days) were observed in the immunized groups compared to the controls (p < 0.05). The low values of IL-4 (22.5 ± 0.16 pg/ml) were detected in vaccinated mice compared to the control (PBS) (p > 0.05). In addition, CpG-ODN as an adjuvant increased the immune efficacy of the multi-epitope DNA vaccine. In multi-epitope vaccine+CpG-ODN group, the values of IgG antibodies (535.90 ±7.29 ng/ml) and IFN-γ (358.21 ± 32.70 pg/ml) were significanly higher than the multi-epitope vaccine group. Meanwhile, an increased survival time (10 days) and fewer parasite load (15,485 per mg of spleen) were observed in multi-epitope vaccine+CpG-ODN group. The results revealed that the DNA vaccine containing epitopes of SAG1, SAG3 and SAG5 adjuvanted with CpG-ODN might be a new model for further investigations against acute T. gondii infection. Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier B.V.


Masoumeh Khodadadi, Fatemeh Ghaffarifar, Abdolhosein Dalimi, Ehsan Ahmadpour. Immunogenicity of in-silico designed multi-epitope DNA vaccine encoding SAG1, SAG3 and SAG5 of Toxoplasma gondii adjuvanted with CpG-ODN against acute toxoplasmosis in BALB/c mice. Acta tropica. 2021 Apr;216:105836

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PMID: 33485872

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