Previous studies of ours have demonstrated that a recombinant protein (Fh15) related to fatty acid-binding proteins did not induce significant protection in rabbits challenged 2 or 4 wk postimmunization over nonimmunized controls. In the current study, rabbits were immunized with Fh15 and challenged with Fasciola hepatica metacercariae 12 and 20 wk later. In the current study in which longer lag periods for challenge infection after the second immunization were used, worm burden reductions compared to adjuvant controls were a significant 43% and 76%, respectively. Importantly, rabbits immunized with Fh15 had significant numbers of immature flukes, 66% in the 12-wk period and 84% in the 20-wk lag period as compared to controls. In addition, liver lesions were clearly diminished in the vaccinated rabbits. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay absorbance values showed that immunized rabbits developed high antibody levels to Fh15 from 8 wk after the first immunization and did not increase after challenge. These results suggest that a recombinant F. hepatica molecule related to fatty acid-binding proteins induces protective (worm burden reductions), anti-fecundity (immature flukes), and anti-pathology (less liver lesions) effects in rabbits and may serve as a model for the immunoprophylaxis of fascioliasis.
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