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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Comparison of BCG, MPL and cationic liposome adjuvant systems in leishmanial antigen vaccine formulations against murine visceral leishmaniasis

Rajesh Ravindran12, Sudipta Bhowmick13, Amrita Das1 and Nahid Ali1*

Author Affiliations

1 Infectious Diseases and Immunology Division, Indian Institute of Chemical Biology, 4 Raja S. C. Mullick Road, Jadavpur, Kolkata-700032, India

2 Current Address: Department of Pathology, Emory Vaccine Center, 954 Gatewood Road, Atlanta, GA 30329, USA

3 Current Address: Department of Zoology, Dr. Kanailal Bhattacharyya College, Dharmatala, Ramrajatala, Santragachi, Howrah-711104, India

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BMC Microbiology 2010, 10:181  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-10-181

Published: 24 June 2010



The development of an effective vaccine against visceral leishmaniasis (VL) caused by Leishmania donovani is an essential aim for controlling the disease. Use of the right adjuvant is of fundamental importance in vaccine formulations for generation of effective cell-mediated immune response. Earlier we reported the protective efficacy of cationic liposome-associated L. donovani promastigote antigens (LAg) against experimental VL. The aim of the present study was to compare the effectiveness of two very promising adjuvants, Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) and Monophosphoryl lipid A (MPL) plus trehalose dicorynomycolate (TDM) with cationic liposomes, in combination with LAg, to confer protection against murine VL.


All the three formulations afforded significant protection against L. donovani in both the visceral organs, liver and spleen. Although comparable level of protection was observed in BCG+LAg and MPL-TDM+LAg immunized mice, highest level of protection was exhibited by the liposomal LAg immunized group. Significant increase in anti-LAg IgG levels were detected in both MPL-TDM+LAg and liposomal LAg immunized animals with higher levels of IgG2a than IgG1. But BCG+LAg failed to induce any antibody response. As an index of cell-mediated immunity DTH responses were measured and significant response was observed in mice vaccinated with all the three different formulations. However, highest responses were observed with liposomal vaccine immunization. Comparative evaluation of IFN-γ and IL-4 responses in immunized mice revealed that MPL-TDM+LAg group produced the highest level of IFN-γ but lowest IL-4 level, while BCG+LAg demonstrated generation of suboptimum levels of both IFN-γ and IL-4 response. Elicitation of moderate levels of prechallenge IFN-γ along with optimum IL-4 corresponds with successful vaccination with liposomal LAg.


This comparative study reveals greater effectiveness of the liposomal vaccine for protection against progressive VL in BALB/c. Again, evaluation of the immune responses by vaccination emphasizes the need of stimulation of potent cellular immunity based on both Th1 and Th2 cell responses to confer protection against VL.