Subunit vaccines conferring complete protection against leptospirosis are not currently available. The interactions of factor H binding proteins (FHBPs) on pathogenic leptospires and host factor H are crucial for immune evasion by inhibition of complement-mediated killing. The inhibition of these interactions may be a potential strategy to clear leptospires in the host. This study aimed to evaluate a multisubunit vaccine composed of four known leptospiral FHBPs: LigA domain 7-13 (LigAc), LenA, LcpA, and Lsa23, for its protective efficacy in hamsters. The mono and multisubunit vaccines formulated with LMQ adjuvant, a combination of neutral liposome, monophosphoryl lipid A, and Quillaja saponaria fraction 21, induced high and comparable specific antibody (IgG) production against individual antigens. Hamsters immunized with the multisubunit vaccine showed 60% survival following the challenge by 20 LD50 of Leptospira interrogans serovar Pomona. No significant difference in survival rate and pathological findings of target organs was observed after vaccinations with multisubunit or mono-LigAc vaccines. However, the multisubunit vaccine significantly reduced leptospiral burden in surviving hamsters in comparison with the monosubunit vaccines. Therefore, the multisubunit vaccine conferred partial protection and reduced renal colonization against virulence Leptospira infection in hamsters. Our multisubunit formulation could represent a promising vaccine against leptospirosis.
Keywords: leptospirosis, Leptospira, factor H binding protein, multisubunit vaccine, neutral liposome, MPL, QS21.