Attenuated Salmonella strains are of interest as new vaccine candidates and as vectors of cloned genes of other organisms. Attenuated strains expressing specific cytokines were constructed as a means of manipulating the immune response in various disease settings. In the present study, interleukin-2 (IL-2)-expressing (GIDIL2) or tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α)-expressing (GIDTNF) strains were compared with the parent strain (BRD509) for the effect of cytokines on anti-Salmonella immunity. Expression of IL-2 resulted in a rapid clearance of the organism soon after vaccination. The reduction in GIDIL2 CFU was 50- to 300-fold higher than that of BRD509 and correlated with a markedly decreased splenomegaly. Furthermore, no evidence for any significant activation, including upregulation of surface markers and production of nitric oxide (NO), was observed in spleens of GIDIL2-injected mice. In contrast, the host response to GIDTNF was marked by an early, strong, splenic cellular influx, but surprisingly, the degree of induced splenomegaly and NO secretion was only 50% of that observed in BRD509-treated mice. Despite this, bacterial colonization of the spleen in GIDTNF-immunized animals was either slightly decreased from or equivalent to that of the BRD509-treated group, suggesting the induction of additional antimicrobial mechanisms by TNF-α. In vivo protection studies demonstrated that, at limiting doses, GIDIL2 was inferior to GIDTNF and BRD509 in its capacity to protect against virulent challenge. At high doses, however, all three strains exhibited equal protective efficacy. These results demonstrate that the immune response against intracellular bacteria can be manipulated by pathogen-expressed cytokines and open the way for further fine tuning of immune responses not only to Salmonella strains themselves but also to the heterologous gene(s) carried by them
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