DNA vaccination of bison to brucellar antigens elicits elevated antibody and IFN-γ responses.
Brucella abortus remains a threat to the health and well-being of livestock in states bordering the Greater Yellowstone Area. During the past several years, cohabitation of infected wildlife with cattle has jeopardized the brucellosis-free status of Idaho, USA; Wyoming, USA; and Montana, USA. Current livestock B. abortus vaccines have not proven to be efficacious in bison (Bison bison) or elk (Cervus elaphus nelsoni). One problem with the lack of vaccine efficacy may stem from the failure to understand wildlife immune responses to vaccines. In an attempt to understand their immune responses, bison were vaccinated with eukaryotic DNA expression vectors encoding the Brucella periplasmic protein, bp26, and the chaperone protein, trigger factor (TF). These DNA vaccines have previously been shown to be protective against Brucella infection in mice. Bison were immunized intramuscularly at weeks 0, 2, and 4 with bp26 and TF DNA vaccines plus CpG adjuvant or empty vector (control) plus CpG. Blood samples were collected before vaccination and at 8, 10, and 12 wk after primary vaccination. The results showed that bison immunized with bp26 and TF DNA vaccines developed enhanced antibody, proliferative T cell, and interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) responses upon in vitro restimulation with purified recombinant bp26 or TF antigens, unlike bison immunized with empty vector. Flow cytometric analysis revealed that the percentages of CD4(+) and CD8(+) T lymphocytes from the DNA-vaccinated groups were significantly greater than they were for those bison given empty vector. These data suggest that DNA vaccination of bison may elicit strong cellular immune responses and serve as an alternative for vaccination of bison for brucellosis.