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1.  Clinical and Immune Impact of Mycobacterium bovis BCG Vaccination Scarring  
Infection and Immunity  2002;70(11):6188-6195.
The World Health Organization recommends Mycobacterium bovis BCG vaccination in areas of high tuberculosis prevalence. BCG's clinical and immune effects, not necessarily Mycobacterium tuberculosis specific, are unclear. BCG vaccine scarring often is used as a surrogate marker of vaccination or of effective vaccination. We evaluated BCG scarring status in relation to clinical findings and outcome in 700 hospitalized Malawians, of whom 32 had M. tuberculosis bloodstream infections (BSI) (10 of whom had cellular immune studies done) and of whom 48 were infants <6 months old and therefore recently vaccinated (19 of whom had immune studies). In the patients ≥6 months old, scarring was not related to the presence of pulmonary symptoms (35 versus 30%), chronic cough or fever, mortality, or M. tuberculosis BSI. In M. tuberculosis BSI patients, scarring was unrelated to mortality, vital signs, or clinical symptoms but those with scarring had higher proportions of memory and activated T cells and more type 2-skewed cytokine profiles. Infants with either BCG scarring (n = 10) or BCG lesional inflammation (n = 5) had no symptoms of sepsis, but 18 of 33 infants without BCG vaccination lesions did. Those with BCG lesions had localized infections more often than did those without BCG lesions. These infants also had lower median percentages of lymphocytes spontaneously making interleukin-4 (IL-4) or tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and lower ratios of T cells spontaneously making IL-4 to T cells making IL-6. Thus, we found that, in older patients, BCG vaccine scarring was not associated with M. tuberculosis-specific or nonspecific clinical protection. Those with M. tuberculosis BSI and scarring had immune findings suggesting previous M. tuberculosis antigen exposure and induction of a type 2 cytokine pattern with acute reexposure. It is unlikely that this type 2 pattern would be protective against mycobacteria, which require a type 1 response for effective containment. In infants <6 months old, recent BCG vaccination was associated with a non-M. tuberculosis-specific, anti-inflammatory cytokine profile. That the vaccinated infants had a greater frequency of localized infections and lesser frequency of sepsis symptoms suggests that this postvaccination cytokine pattern may provide some non-M. tuberculosis-specific clinical benefits.
PMCID: PMC130324  PMID: 12379697
2.  Natural Variation in Immune Responses to Neonatal Mycobacterium bovis Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) Vaccination in a Cohort of Gambian Infants 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(10):e3485.
There is a need for new vaccines for tuberculosis (TB) that protect against adult pulmonary disease in regions where BCG is not effective. However, BCG could remain integral to TB control programmes because neonatal BCG protects against disseminated forms of childhood TB and many new vaccines rely on BCG to prime immunity or are recombinant strains of BCG. Interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) is required for immunity to mycobacteria and used as a marker of immunity when new vaccines are tested. Although BCG is widely given to neonates IFN-γ responses to BCG in this age group are poorly described. Characterisation of IFN-γ responses to BCG is required for interpretation of vaccine immunogenicity study data where BCG is part of the vaccination strategy.
Methodology/Principal Findings
236 healthy Gambian babies were vaccinated with M. bovis BCG at birth. IFN-γ, interleukin (IL)-5 and IL-13 responses to purified protein derivative (PPD), killed Mycobacterium tuberculosis (KMTB), M. tuberculosis short term culture filtrate (STCF) and M. bovis BCG antigen 85 complex (Ag85) were measured in a whole blood assay two months after vaccination. Cytokine responses varied up to 10 log-fold within this population. The majority of infants (89–98% depending on the antigen) made IFN-γ responses and there was significant correlation between IFN-γ responses to the different mycobacterial antigens (Spearman's coefficient ranged from 0.340 to 0.675, p = 10−6–10−22). IL-13 and IL-5 responses were generally low and there were more non-responders (33–75%) for these cytokines. Nonetheless, significant correlations were observed for IL-13 and IL-5 responses to different mycobacterial antigens
Cytokine responses to mycobacterial antigens in BCG-vaccinated infants are heterogeneous and there is significant inter-individual variation. Further studies in large populations of infants are required to identify the factors that determine variation in IFN-γ responses.
PMCID: PMC2567029  PMID: 18941532
3.  BCG-Mediated Protection against Mycobacterium ulcerans Infection in the Mouse 
Vaccination with Mycobacterium bovis bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) is widely used to reduce the risk of childhood tuberculosis and has been reported to have efficacy against two other mycobacterial diseases, leprosy and Buruli ulcer caused by M. ulcerans (Mu). Studies in experimental models have also shown some efficacy against infection caused by Mu. In mice, most studies use the C57BL/6 strain that is known to develop good cell-mediated protective immunity. We hypothesized that there may be differences in vaccination efficacy between C57BL/6 and the less resistant BALB/c strain.
We evaluated BCG vaccine efficacy against challenge with ∼3×105 M. ulcerans in the right hind footpad using three strains: initially, the Australian type strain, designated Mu1617, then, a Malaysian strain, Mu1615, and a recent Ghanaian isolate, Mu1059. The latter two strains both produce mycolactone while the Australian strain has lost that capacity. CFU of both BCG and Mu and splenocyte cytokine production were determined at intervals after infection. Time to footpad swelling was assessed weekly.
Principal Findings
BCG injection induced visible scars in 95.5% of BALB/c mice but only 43.4% of C57BL/6 mice. BCG persisted at higher levels in spleens of BALB/c than C57BL/6 mice. Vaccination delayed swelling and reduced Mu CFU in BALB/c mice, regardless of challenge strain. However, vaccination was only protective against Mu1615 and Mu1617 in C57BL/6 mice. Possible correlates of the better protection of BALB/c mice included 1) the near universal development of BCG scars in these mice compared to less frequent and smaller scars observed in C57BL/6 mice and 2) the induction of sustained cytokine, e.g., IL17, production as detected in the spleens of BALB/c mice whereas cytokine production was significantly reduced, e.g., IL17, or transient, e.g., Ifnγ, in the spleens of C57BL/6 mice.
The efficacy of BCG against M. ulcerans, in particular, and possibly mycobacteria in general, may vary due to differences in both host and pathogen.
Author Summary
Vaccination with Mycobacterium bovis bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) is used to reduce the risk of childhood tuberculosis and is reported to have efficacy against two other diseases also caused by mycobacteria, leprosy and Buruli ulcer caused by M. ulcerans. We hypothesized that there may be differences in the effectiveness of BCG vaccination in different mouse strains. We vaccinated two mouse strains with BCG eight weeks before infection with three different strains of M. ulcerans. Two of the bacterial strains make a toxin that is critical for Buruli ulcer disease and the third does not. We observed the progression of disease in vaccinated and mock-vaccinated mice and also evaluated the immune response of the mice. We found that the BALB/c mice respond to BCG vaccination with prominent scars, a vigorous immune response, and delayed or no manifestations of M. ulcerans infection. C57BL/6 mice, on the other hand, usually do not have vaccination scars, make a relatively short-lived and/or weaker immune response, and all show disease at the site of M. ulcerans infection. We conclude that the efficacy of BCG against M. ulcerans, and possibly other diseases, depends on the nature of the host and of the infecting strain of the bacteria.
PMCID: PMC3057947  PMID: 21423646
4.  IFN-γ Mediates the Rejection of Haematopoietic Stem Cells in IFN-γR1-Deficient Hosts 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(1):e26.
Interferon-γ receptor 1 (IFN-γR1) deficiency is a life-threatening inherited disorder, conferring predisposition to mycobacterial diseases. Haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is the only curative treatment available, but is hampered by a very high rate of graft rejection, even with intra-familial HLA-identical transplants. This high rejection rate is not seen in any other congenital disorders and remains unexplained. We studied the underlying mechanism in a mouse model of HSCT for IFN-γR1 deficiency.
Methods and Findings
We demonstrated that HSCT with cells from a syngenic C57BL/6 Ifngr1+/+ donor engrafted well and restored anti-mycobacterial immunity in naive, non-infected C57BL/6 Ifngr1−/− recipients. However, Ifngr1−/− mice previously infected with Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) rejected HSCT. Like infected IFN-γR1-deficient humans, infected Ifngr1−/− mice displayed very high serum IFN-γ levels before HSCT. The administration of a recombinant IFN-γ-expressing AAV vector to Ifngr1−/− naive recipients also resulted in HSCT graft rejection. Transplantation was successful in Ifngr1−/− × Ifng−/− double-mutant mice, even after BCG infection. Finally, efficient antibody-mediated IFN-γ depletion in infected Ifngr1−/− mice in vivo allowed subsequent engraftment.
High serum IFN-γ concentration is both necessary and sufficient for graft rejection in IFN-γR1-deficient mice, inhibiting the development of heterologous, IFN-γR1-expressing, haematopoietic cell lineages. These results confirm that IFN-γ is an anti-haematopoietic cytokine in vivo. They also pave the way for HSCT management in IFN-γR1-deficient patients through IFN-γ depletion from the blood. They further raise the possibility that depleting IFN-γ may improve engraftment in other settings, such as HSCT from a haplo-identical or unrelated donor.
Claire Soudais and colleagues investigated the mechanism of rejection of hematopoietic stem cell transplants in patients with interferon-gamma receptor 1 (IFN-γR1) deficiency and show that IFN-γ is an anti-hematopoietic cytokine in vivo.
Editors' Summary
Normally, the body's immune system efficiently recognizes and kills bacteria and viruses, but in some rare inherited disorders (“primary immunodeficiencies”) part of the immune system works poorly or is missing. This leaves affected individuals susceptible to infections. People with one of these disorders—interferon-gamma receptor 1 (IFN- γR1) deficiency—are very susceptible to infections with mycobacteria. Except for Mycobacterium tuberculosis and M. leprae (which cause tuberculosis and leprosy, respectively), mycobacteria rarely cause human disease. However, most people with IFN-γR1 deficiency die during childhood from multiple, widespread mycobacterial infections, because IFN-γR1 deficiency disables a specific part of their immune system. When most bacteria enter the body, immune system cells called macrophages engulf and kill them, but mycobacteria actually multiply inside macrophages. This infection stimulates lymphocytes and other immune system cells to release IFN-γ, which binds to IFN-γR1 on uninfected macrophages, activates them, and recruits them to the infection site. Here, they form a “granuloma,” a mass of macrophages and activated lymphocytes that “walls off” the infection. Granuloma formation does not occur in patients with IFN-γR1 deficiency, so mycobacteria (including the usually benign tuberculosis vaccination strain M. bovis BCG) spread throughout the body with disastrous consequences.
Why Was This Study Done?
The only effective treatment for patients with IFN-γR1 deficiency is hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). HSCs are the source of all the immune system cells, so transplantation of HSCs from a donor with a normal IFNGR1 gene can provide a patient who has IFN-γR1 deficiency with a new immune system that can combat mycobacterial infections. Unfortunately, in this particular immune deficiency, the new HSCs cannot engraft, even when the patient's own immune system is disabled before HSCT by intensive chemotherapy, and when the donor cells come from a close relative and are a good immunological match. In this study, the researchers have investigated why rejection is so common in IFN-γR1 deficiency using a mouse strain called C57BL/6 Ifngr1−/−—C57BL/6 denotes the genetic background of these mice and Ifngr1−/− indicates that, like human patients, these mice make no IFN-γR1.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Ifngr1−/− mice, the researchers report, cannot control M. bovis BCG infections and do not form mature granulomas just like human patients with IFN-γR1 deficiency. Wild-type C57BL/6 (Ifngr1+/+) mice, however, rapidly control M. bovis BCG infections and form mature granulomas. Ifngr1+/+ HSC transplanted into mycobacteria-free Ifngr1−/− mice survived well and protected the mice against later mycobacterial challenge but Ifngr1−/− mice infected with M. bovis BCG before HSCT rejected the transplanted HSCs. Mycobacteria-infected Ifngr1−/− mice and human patients with IFN-γR1 deficiency have blood high levels of IFN-γ. Could this be responsible for HSCT rejection? To find out, the researchers expressed IFN-γ in uninfected Ifngr1−/− mice before HSCT. As in infected mice, these grafts failed. Conversely, transplanted HSCs survived when transplanted into Ifngr1−/− mice that had been genetically altered to express no IFN-γ, even when these mice were infected with M. bovis BCG before transplantation. Finally, when the researchers used antibodies (proteins made by the immune system that recognize specific molecules) to remove circulating IFN-γ from infected Ifngr1−/− mice, HSCT worked well in the animals with the lowest IFN-γ levels.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that in a mouse model of IFN-γR1 deficiency, high circulating IFN-γ concentrations drive the rejection of transplanted HSCs and prevent the development of antimycobacterial immunity, probably by directly killing the transplanted cells and/or stopping them multiplying. They also suggest how HSCT could be improved in patients with IFN-γR1 deficiency although, as with all animal studies, the situation in people might turn out to be very different. Importantly, antibodies that reduce circulating IFN-γ are already being used to treat other human immune diseases, so the clinical use of these antibodies in patients with IFN-γ deficiency before HSCT is feasible. Finally, the researchers speculate that the use of IFN-γ–depleting antibodies might be beneficial in other situations where HSCT often fails such as when a close relative is not available as a donor. However, this possibility will need to be thoroughly tested in mice before human clinical trials can be started.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
General information about primary immunodeficiencies is available from the US National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM) provides information about familial predisposition to mycobacterial disease
Wikipedia has pages on hematopoietic stem cell transplantation and on interferon-γ (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
The Human Genetics of Infectious Diseases Lab focuses on the genetic basis of predicposition or resistance to infectious diseases in humans
PMCID: PMC2214797  PMID: 18232731
5.  Factors associated with tuberculosis infection, and with anti-mycobacterial immune responses, among five year olds BCG-immunised at birth in Entebbe, Uganda 
Vaccine  2015;33(6):796-804.
•Urban residence and history of TB contact/disease were associated with increased risk of latent TB infection at age five years.•BCG vaccine strain, LTBI, HIV and malaria infections, and anthropometry predict anti-mycobacterial immune responses.•Helminth infections do not influence response to BCG vaccination.•Cytokine responses at one year were not associated with LTBI at age five years.
BCG is used widely as the sole licensed vaccine against tuberculosis, but it has variable efficacy and the reasons for this are still unclear. No reliable biomarkers to predict future protection against, or acquisition of, TB infection following immunisation have been identified. Lessons from BCG could be valuable in the development of effective tuberculosis vaccines.
Within the Entebbe Mother and Baby Study birth cohort in Uganda, infants received BCG at birth. We investigated factors associated with latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) and with cytokine response to mycobacterial antigen at age five years. We also investigated whether cytokine responses at one year were associated with LTBI at five years of age.
Blood samples from age one and five years were stimulated using crude culture filtrates of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in a six-day whole blood assay. IFN-γ, IL-5, IL-13 and IL-10 production was measured. LTBI at five years was determined using T-SPOT.TB® assay. Associations with LTBI at five years were assessed using multivariable logistic regression. Multiple linear regression with bootstrapping was used to determine factors associated with cytokine responses at age five years.
LTBI prevalence was 9% at age five years. Only urban residence and history of TB contact/disease were positively associated with LTBI. BCG vaccine strain, LTBI, HIV infection, asymptomatic malaria, growth z-scores, childhood anthelminthic treatment and maternal BCG scar were associated with cytokine responses at age five. Cytokine responses at one year were not associated with acquisition of LTBI by five years of age.
Although multiple factors influenced anti-myocbacterial immune responses at age five, factors likely to be associated with exposure to infectious cases (history of household contact, and urban residence) dominated the risk of LTBI.
PMCID: PMC4317190  PMID: 25529292
Tuberculosis; HIV; Helminth; Pregnancy; Bacille Calmette–Guerin; Crude culture filtrate protein
6.  Recombinant Mycobacterium bovis BCG Expressing Pertussis Toxin Subunit S1 Induces Protection against an Intracerebral Challenge with Live Bordetella pertussis in Mice 
Infection and Immunity  2000;68(9):4877-4883.
The recent development of acellular pertussis vaccines has been a significant improvement in the conventional whole-cell diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus toxoid vaccines, but high production costs will limit its widespread use in developing countries. Since Mycobacterium bovis BCG vaccination against tuberculosis is used in most developing countries, a recombinant BCG-pertussis vaccine could be a more viable alternative. We have constructed recombinant BCG (rBCG) strains expressing the genetically detoxified S1 subunit of pertussis toxin 9K/129G (S1PT) in fusion with either the β-lactamase signal sequence or the whole β-lactamase protein, under control of the upregulated M. fortuitum β-lactamase promoter, pBlaF*. Expression levels were higher in the fusion with the whole β-lactamase protein, and both were localized to the mycobacterial cell wall. The expression vectors were relatively stable in vivo, since at two months 85% of the BCG recovered from the spleens of vaccinated mice maintained kanamycin resistance. Spleen cells from rBCG-S1PT-vaccinated mice showed elevated gamma interferon (IFN-γ) and low interleukin-4 (IL-4) production, as well as increased proliferation, upon pertussis toxin (PT) stimulation, characterizing a strong antigen-specific Th1-dominant cellular response. The rBCG-S1PT strains induced a low humoral response against PT after 2 months. Mice immunized with rBCG-S1PT strains displayed high-level protection against an intracerebral challenge with live Bordetella pertussis, which correlated with the induction of a PT-specific cellular immune response, reinforcing the importance of cell-mediated immunity in the protection against B. pertussis infection. Our results suggest that rBCG-expressing pertussis antigens could constitute an effective, low-cost combined vaccine against tuberculosis and pertussis.
PMCID: PMC101688  PMID: 10948100
7.  Comparing efficacy of BCG/lactoferrin primary vaccination versus booster regimen 
Lactoferrin is an iron binding glycoprotein possessing multiple immune modulatory activities, including ability to affect macrophage cytokine production, mature T- and B- lymphocytes and immature dendritic cells, and enhance the ability of macrophages and dendritic cells to stimulate antigen-specific T-cells, and. These characteristics of lactoferrin suggested that it could function as an effective adjuvant enhance efficacy of the BCG, the current vaccine for tuberculosis disease. Admix of lactoferrin to the BCG vaccine promoted host protective responses that surpasses activity of the BCG vaccine alone as determined by decreasing pulmonary pathology upon challenge with virulent Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB). This study builds on previous reports by examining the effectiveness of the lactoferrin adjuvant comparing primary vaccination versus an immunization schedule with a booster administered at 8 weeks. BCG/lactoferrin vaccinating, given once or twice, demonstrated an improvement in pulmonary disease compared to both the BCG vaccinated and non-immunized groups. The splenic recall profiles showed a difference in cytokine production induced by mycobacterial antigen from splenocytes isolated from mice immunized with BCG/lactoferrin once or twice. Production of IL-17 is increased in the BCG/lactoferrin 2x group compared to the primary vaccinated group. Both BCG/lactoferrin vaccinated group exhibited increase production of IFN-γ compared to the non-immunized group and decreased production of IL-10 compared to the group vaccinated with only BCG. This study illustrates that the adjuvant activity of lactoferrin to enhance BCG efficacy occurs whether the vaccination regimen is a single delivery or combined with a booster, leading to enhanced host protection and decreased disease manifestation.
PMCID: PMC3248975  PMID: 22088320
Lactoferrin; BCG; Vaccine; Adjuvant; Tuberculosis
8.  Bacillus Calmette-Guerin Infection in NADPH Oxidase Deficiency: Defective Mycobacterial Sequestration and Granuloma Formation 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(9):e1004325.
Patients with chronic granulomatous disease (CGD) lack generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) through the phagocyte NADPH oxidase NOX2. CGD is an immune deficiency that leads to frequent infections with certain pathogens; this is well documented for S. aureus and A. fumigatus, but less clear for mycobacteria. We therefore performed an extensive literature search which yielded 297 cases of CGD patients with mycobacterial infections; M. bovis BCG was most commonly described (74%). The relationship between NOX2 deficiency and BCG infection however has never been studied in a mouse model. We therefore investigated BCG infection in three different mouse models of CGD: Ncf1 mutants in two different genetic backgrounds and Cybb knock-out mice. In addition, we investigated a macrophage-specific rescue (transgenic expression of Ncf1 under the control of the CD68 promoter). Wild-type mice did not develop severe disease upon BCG injection. In contrast, all three types of CGD mice were highly susceptible to BCG, as witnessed by a severe weight loss, development of hemorrhagic pneumonia, and a high mortality (∼50%). Rescue of NOX2 activity in macrophages restored BCG resistance, similar as seen in wild-type mice. Granulomas from mycobacteria-infected wild-type mice generated ROS, while granulomas from CGD mice did not. Bacterial load in CGD mice was only moderately increased, suggesting that it was not crucial for the observed phenotype. CGD mice responded with massively enhanced cytokine release (TNF-α, IFN-γ, IL-17 and IL-12) early after BCG infection, which might account for severity of the disease. Finally, in wild-type mice, macrophages formed clusters and restricted mycobacteria to granulomas, while macrophages and mycobacteria were diffusely distributed in lung tissue from CGD mice. Our results demonstrate that lack of the NADPH oxidase leads to a markedly increased severity of BCG infection through mechanisms including increased cytokine production and impaired granuloma formation.
Author Summary
The vaccine Mycobacterium bovis BCG is administrated to prevent early age tuberculosis in endemic areas. BCG is a live vaccine with a low incidence of complications. However, local or disseminated BCG infection may occur, in particular in immunodeficient individuals. Chronic granulomatous disease (CGD), a deficiency in the superoxide-producing phagocyte NADPH oxidase, is a primary immune deficiency and one of the most frequent congenital defects of phagocyte in humans. Here we analyze the role of the phagocyte NADPH oxidase NOX2 in the defense against BCG. An extensive literature review suggested that BCG infection is by far the most common mycobacterial disease in CGD patients (220 published cases). We therefore studied BCG infection in several CGD mouse models showing that these were highly susceptible to BCG infection with a mortality rate of ∼50%. As compared to the wild type, CGD mice showed a markedly increased release of cytokines, an altered granuloma structure, and were unable to restrain mycobacteria within granulomas. Rescue of the phagocyte NADPH oxidase in macrophages was sufficient to protect mice from BCG infection and to sequester the mycobacteria within granulomas. Thus, superoxide generation by macrophages plays an important role for the defense against BCG infection and prevents overshooting release of proinflammatory cytokines.
PMCID: PMC4154868  PMID: 25188296
9.  Maternal Infection with Trypanosoma cruzi and Congenital Chagas Disease Induce a Trend to a Type 1 Polarization of Infant Immune Responses to Vaccines 
We previously showed that newborns congenitally infected with Trypanosoma cruzi (M+B+) display a strong type 1 parasite-specific T cell immune response, whereas uninfected newborns from T. cruzi-infected mothers (M+B−) are prone to produce higher levels of proinflammatory cytokines than control neonates (M−B−). The purpose of the present study was to determine if such fetal/neonatal immunological environments could alter the response to standard vaccines administered in early life.
Infants (6–7 months old) living in Bolivia, an area highly endemic for T. cruzi infection, and having received Bacillus Calmette Guerin (BCG), hepatitis B virus (HBV), diphtheria and tetanus vaccines, were enrolled into the M+B+, M+B−, M−B− groups mentioned above. The production of IFN-γ and IL-13, as markers of Th1 and Th2 responses respectively, by peripherical blood mononuclear cells stimulated with tuberculin purified protein derivative of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (PPD) or the vaccinal antigens HBs, diphtheria toxoid (DT) or tetanus toxoid (TT), as well as circulating levels of IgG antibodies against HBsAg, DT and TT were analyzed in infants. Cellular responses to the superantigen SEB were also monitored in M+B+, M+B−, M−B−infants and newborns.
Principal Findings
M+B+ infants developed a stronger IFN-γ response to hepatitis B, diphtheria and tetanus vaccines than did M+B− and M−B− groups. They also displayed an enhanced antibody production to HBsAg. This was associated with a type 1-biased immune environment at birth, since cells of M+B+ newborns produced higher IFN-γ levels in response to SEB. M+B− infants produced more IFN-γ in response to PPD than the other groups. IL-13 production remained low and similar in all the three groups, whatever the subject's ages or vaccine status.
These results show that: i) both maternal infection with T. cruzi and congenital Chagas disease do not interfere with responses to BCG, hepatitis B, diphtheria and tetanus vaccines in the neonatal period, and ii) the overcoming of immunological immaturity by T. cruzi infection in early life is not limited to the development of parasite-specific immune responses, but also tends to favour type 1 immune responses to vaccinal antigens.
Author Summary
Vaccines are of crucial importance to prevent morbidity and mortality due to infectious diseases in childhood. A modulation of the fetal/neonatal immune system (considered immature) toward Th1 or Th2 dominance could modify responses to vaccines administered in early life. T. cruzi is the agent of Chagas' disease, in Latin America currently infecting about 2 million women at fertile ages who are susceptible to transmitting the parasite to their fetus. In previous studies we showed that T. cruzi-infected mothers can induce a pro-inflammatory environment in their uninfected neonates (M+B−), whereas congenitally infected newborns (M+B+) are able to develop a pro-Th1 parasite-specific T cell response. In the present study, we analysed the cellular and/or antibody responses to Bacillus Calmette Guerin (BCG), hepatitis B birus (HBV), diphtheria and tetanus vaccines in 6- to 7-month-old infants living in Bolivia. M+B− infants produced more IFN-γ in response to BCG, whereas M+B+ infants developed a stronger IFN-γ response to hepatitis B, diphtheria and tetanus vaccines and enhanced antibody production to HBs antigen. These results show that both maternal infection with T. cruzi and congenital Chagas disease do not interfere with responses to BCG, hepatitis B, diphtheria and tetanus vaccines in the neonatal period and that T. cruzi infection in early life tends to favour type 1 immune responses to vaccinal antigens.
PMCID: PMC2796860  PMID: 20041029
10.  Mycobacterium bovis BCG Producing Interleukin-18 Increases Antigen-Specific Gamma Interferon Production in Mice  
Infection and Immunity  2002;70(12):6549-6557.
Interleukin-18 (IL-18) and IL-12 play a critical role in the expression of cell-mediated immunity involved in host defense against intracellular pathogens. Both cytokines are produced by macrophages and act in synergy to induce gamma interferon (IFN-γ) production by T, B, and natural killer cells. In the present study, we analyzed both cellular and humoral responses upon infection with IL-18-secreting BCG of BALB/c and C3H/HeJ mice, two strains known to differ in their ability to support the growth of BCG. The cDNA encoding mature IL-18 was fused in frame with the alpha-antigen signal peptide-coding sequence, cloned downstream of the mycobacterial hsp60 promoter and expressed in BCG. IL-18 produced by the recombinant BCG strain was functional, as judged by NF-κB-mediated luciferase induction in a tissue culture assay. When susceptible mice were infected with IL-18-producing BCG, their splenocytes were found to produce higher amounts of Th1 cytokines after stimulation with mycobacterial antigens than the splenocytes of mice infected with the nonrecombinant BCG. This was most prominent for IFN-γ, although the mycobacterial antigen-specific secretion of granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor and IL-10 was also augmented after infection with the recombinant BCG compared to infection with nonrecombinant BCG. In contrast, the immunoglobulin G levels in serum against mycobacterial antigens were lower when the mice were infected with IL-18-producing BCG compared to infection with nonrecombinant BCG. The IL-18 effect was delayed in BALB/c compared to C3H/HeJ mice. These results indicate that the production of IL-18 by recombinant BCG may enhance the immunomodulatory properties of BCG further toward a Th1 profile. This may be particularly useful for immunotherapeutic or prophylactic interventions in which a Th1 response is most desirable.
PMCID: PMC132979  PMID: 12438324
11.  Dietary Pyridoxine Controls Efficacy of Vitamin B6-Auxotrophic Tuberculosis Vaccine Bacillus Calmette-Guérin ΔureC::hly Δpdx1 in Mice 
mBio  2014;5(3):e01262-14.
The only tuberculosis (TB) vaccine in use today, bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG), provides insufficient protection and can cause adverse events in immunocompromised individuals, such as BCGosis in HIV+ newborns. We previously reported improved preclinical efficacy and safety of the recombinant vaccine candidate BCG ΔureC::hly, which secretes the pore-forming listeriolysin O of Listeria monocytogenes. Here, we evaluate a second-generation construct, BCG ΔureC::hly Δpdx1, which is deficient in pyridoxine synthase, an enzyme that is required for biosynthesis of the essential cofactor vitamin B6. This candidate was auxotrophic for vitamin B6 in a concentration-dependent manner, as was its survival in vivo. BCG ΔureC::hly Δpdx1 showed markedly restricted dissemination in subcutaneously vaccinated mice, which was ameliorated by dietary supplementation with vitamin B6. The construct was safer in severe combined immunodeficiency mice than the parental BCG ΔureC::hly. A prompt innate immune response to vaccination, measured by secretion of interleukin-6, granulocyte colony-stimulating factor, keratinocyte cytokine, and macrophage inflammatory protein-1α, remained independent of vitamin B6 administration, while acquired immunity, notably stimulation of antigen-specific CD4 T cells, B cells, and memory T cells, was contingent on vitamin B6 administration. The early protection provided by BCG ΔureC::hly Δpdx1 in a murine Mycobacterium tuberculosis aerosol challenge model consistently depended on vitamin B6 supplementation. Prime-boost vaccination increased protection against the canonical M. tuberculosis H37Rv laboratory strain and a clinical isolate of the Beijing/W lineage. We demonstrate that the efficacy of a profoundly attenuated recombinant BCG vaccine construct can be modulated by external administration of a small molecule. This principle fosters the development of safer vaccines required for immunocompromised individuals, notably HIV+ infants.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis can synthesize the essential cofactor vitamin B6, while humans depend on dietary supplementation. Unlike the lipophilic vitamins A, D, and E, water-soluble vitamin B6 is well tolerated at high doses. We generated a vitamin B6 auxotroph of the phase II clinical tuberculosis vaccine candidate bacillus Calmette-Guérin ΔureC::hly. The next-generation candidate was profoundly attenuated compared to the parental strain. Adaptive immunity and protection in mice consistently depended on increased dietary vitamin B6 above the daily required dose. Control of vaccine efficacy via food supplements such as vitamin B6 could provide a fast track toward improved safety. Safer vaccines are urgently needed for HIV-infected individuals at high risk of adverse events in response to live vaccines.
PMCID: PMC4049106  PMID: 24895310
12.  Immunogenicity and Protective Efficacy of Prime-Boost Regimens with Recombinant ΔureC hly+ Mycobacterium bovis BCG and Modified Vaccinia Virus Ankara Expressing M. tuberculosis Antigen 85A against Murine Tuberculosis▿  
Infection and Immunity  2008;77(2):622-631.
In the light of the recent emergence of multidrug-resistant and extensively drug-resistant strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the epidemic of tuberculosis (TB) in populations coinfected with human immunodeficiency virus, and the failure of Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) to protect against disease, new vaccines against TB are urgently needed. Two promising new vaccine candidates are the recombinant ΔureC hly+ BCG (recBCG), which has been developed to replace the current BCG vaccine strain, and modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) expressing M. tuberculosis antigen 85A (MVA85A), which is a leading candidate vaccine designed to boost the protective efficacy of BCG. In the present study, we examined the effect of MVA85A boosting on the protection afforded at 12 weeks postchallenge by BCG and recBCG by using bacterial CFU as an efficacy readout. recBCG-immunized mice were significantly better protected against aerosol challenge with M. tuberculosis than mice immunized with the parental strain of BCG. Intradermal boosting with MVA85A did not reduce the bacterial burden any further. In order to identify a marker for the development of a protective immune response against M. tuberculosis challenge, we analyzed splenocytes after priming or prime-boosting by using intracytoplasmic cytokine staining and assays for cytokine secretion. Boosting with MVA85A, but not priming with BCG or recBCG, greatly increased the antigen 85A-specific T-cell response, suggesting that the mechanism of protection may differ from that against BCG or recBCG. We show that the numbers of systemic multifunctional cytokine-producing cells did not correlate with protection against aerosol challenge in BALB/c mice. This emphasizes the need for new biomarkers for the evaluation of TB vaccine efficacy.
PMCID: PMC2632018  PMID: 19064635
13.  Age-related waning of in vitro Interferon-γ levels against r32kDaBCG in BCG vaccinated children 
Mycobacterium bovis BCG vaccine has displayed inconsistent efficacy in different trials conducted in various geographical regions. Nevertheless, it significantly reduces the risk of severe childhood tuberculosis and continues to be used to prevent tuberculosis in many countries. Many studies revealed that efficacy of vaccine wanes with age. Most of the studies were based on in vivo and in vitro responses to tuberculin. With the advent of newer tests such as in vitro interferon-γ assays and identification of potent immunogenic mycobacterial proteins there is a need to corroborate the observations. This study aims at ascertaining the need for a booster at a later age as indicated by in vitro release of IFN-γ while evaluating Ag85A as an antigen.
Ninety healthy children who were without any clinical evidence of the disease, 45 with a BCG-scar and the remaining 45 without scar and 25 with tuberculosis were included in the study. The incidence of TB was analyzed in 216 children attending a DOTS clinic during 1996–2005. CD3+, CD4+ and CD8+ cell counts were measured by Flow cytometry. r32kDaBCG (Ag85A-BCG) protein was used to stimulate T cells in in vitro T cell responses and interferon-γ (IFN-γ) cytokine levels in the supernatants were measured by ELISA.
High incidence of TB was observed in age group 13–14 years followed by children in the age group 10–12 years (Chi-square 242.22; p < 0.000). T cell subsets were within the normal range in all subjects. 79% of vaccinated children showed positive proliferative responses with a mean SI value of 4.98 ± 1.99 while only 39% of the unvaccinated and 58% of the tuberculosis children showed positive responses with mean values of 2.9 ± 1.6 (p < 0.001) and 2.9 ± 1.7(p < 0.057), respectively. The stimulation indices in vaccinated children decreased in the older children concurring with an increase in the incidence of TB.
Significantly high levels of in vitro IFN-γ demonstrated in BCG vaccinated children in our study substantiate the observation that BCG is effective in children, but the effect may wane with age. The immunity could be boosted using modified r32kDa (Ag85A) of BCG.
PMCID: PMC1899498  PMID: 17555578
14.  Effectiveness of Routine BCG Vaccination on Buruli Ulcer Disease: A Case-Control Study in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana and Togo 
The only available vaccine that could be potentially beneficial against mycobacterial diseases contains live attenuated bovine tuberculosis bacillus (Mycobacterium bovis) also called Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG). Even though the BCG vaccine is still widely used, results on its effectiveness in preventing mycobacterial diseases are partially contradictory, especially regarding Buruli Ulcer Disease (BUD). The aim of this case-control study is to evaluate the possible protective effect of BCG vaccination on BUD.
The present study was performed in three different countries and sites where BUD is endemic: in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, and Togo from 2010 through 2013. The large study population was comprised of 401 cases with laboratory confirmed BUD and 826 controls, mostly family members or neighbors.
Principal Findings
After stratification by the three countries, two sexes and four age groups, no significant correlation was found between the presence of BCG scar and BUD status of individuals. Multivariate analysis has shown that the independent variables country (p = 0.31), sex (p = 0.24), age (p = 0.96), and presence of a BCG scar (p = 0.07) did not significantly influence the development of BUD category I or category II/III. Furthermore, the status of BCG vaccination was also not significantly related to duration of BUD or time to healing of lesions.
In our study, we did not observe significant evidence of a protective effect of routine BCG vaccination on the risk of developing either BUD or severe forms of BUD. Since accurate data on BCG strains used in these three countries were not available, no final conclusion can be drawn on the effectiveness of BCG strain in protecting against BUD. As has been suggested for tuberculosis and leprosy, well-designed prospective studies on different existing BCG vaccine strains are needed also for BUD.
Author Summary
After tuberculosis and leprosy, Buruli Ulcer Disease (BUD) is the third most common human mycobacterial disease. The only available vaccine that could be potentially beneficial against these diseases is BCG. Even though BCG vaccine is widely used, the results on its effectiveness are partially contradictory, probably since different BCG strains are used. The aim of this study was to evaluate the possible protective effect of BCG vaccines on BUD. The present study was performed in three different countries and sites where BUD is endemic: in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, and Togo from 2010 through 2013. The large study population was comprised of 401 cases with laboratory confirmed BUD and 826 controls, mostly family members or neighbors. Considering the three countries, sex, and age, the analysis confirmed that the BCG vaccination did not significantly decrease the risk for developing BUD or for developing severe forms of BUD. Furthermore, the status of BCG vaccination was also not significantly related to duration of BUD or to time to healing of lesions. In our study, we could not find any evidence of a protective effect of routine BCG vaccination on BUD.
PMCID: PMC4287572  PMID: 25569674
15.  Safety and Immunogenicity of Boosting BCG Vaccinated Subjects with BCG: Comparison with Boosting with a New TB Vaccine, MVA85A 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(6):e5934.
To investigate the safety and immunogenicity of a booster BCG vaccination delivered intradermally in healthy, BCG vaccinated subjects and to compare with a previous clinical trial where BCG vaccinated subjects were boosted with a new TB vaccine, MVA85A.
Phase I open label observational trial, in the UK. Healthy, HIV-negative, BCG vaccinated adults were recruited and vaccinated with BCG. The primary outcome was safety; the secondary outcome was cellular immune responses to antigen 85, overlapping peptides of antigen 85A and tuberculin purified protein derivative (PPD) detected by ex vivo interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) ELISpot assay and flow cytometry.
Results and Conclusions
BCG revaccination (BCG-BCG) was well tolerated, and boosting of pre-existing PPD-specific T cell responses was observed. However, when these results were compared with data from a previous clinical trial, where BCG was boosted with MVA85A (BCG-MVA85A), MVA85A induced significantly higher levels (>2-fold) of antigen 85-specific CD4+ T cells (both antigen and peptide pool responses) than boosting with BCG, up to 52 weeks post-vaccination (p = 0.009). To identify antigen 85A-specific CD8+ T cells that were not detectable by ex vivo ELISpot and flow cytometry, dendritic cells (DC) were used to amplify CD8+ T cells from PBMC samples. We observed low, but detectable levels of antigen 85A-specific CD8+ T cells producing IFNγ (1.5% of total CD8 population) in the BCG primed subjects after BCG boosting in 1 (20%) of 5 subjects. In contrast, in BCG-MVA85A vaccinated subjects, high levels of antigen 85A-specific CD8+ T cells (up to 14% total CD8 population) were observed after boosting with MVA85A, in 4 (50%) of 8 subjects evaluated.
In conclusion, revaccination with BCG resulted in modest boosting of pre-existing immune responses to PPD and antigen 85, but vaccination with BCG-MVA85A induced a significantly higher response to antigen 85 and generated a higher frequency of antigen 85A-specific CD8+ T cells.
Trial Registration NCT00654316 NCT00427830
PMCID: PMC2694271  PMID: 19529780
16.  Identification of Surrogates and Correlates of Protection in Protective Immunity against Mycobacterium bovis Infection Induced in Neonatal Calves by Vaccination with M. bovis BCG Pasteur and M. bovis BCG Danish ▿  
Vaccination of neonatal calves with Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) induces a significant degree of protection against infection with virulent M. bovis, the causative agent of bovine tuberculosis (bTB). We compared two strains of BCG, Pasteur and Danish, in order to confirm that the current European human vaccine strain (BCG Danish) induced protective immunity in calves, and we assessed immune responses to determine correlates of protection that could assist future vaccine evaluation in cattle. Both vaccine strains induced antigen (purified protein derivate [PPD])-specific gamma interferon (IFN-γ) in whole-blood cultures. These responses were not significantly different for BCG Pasteur and BCG Danish and peaked at week 2 to 4 postvaccination. Vaccination with either BCG Danish or BCG Pasteur induced significant protection against bTB, with reductions in both lesion score and bacteriological burden evident in both groups of vaccinated calves compared with nonvaccinated control calves. Measurement of IFN-γ-expressing T lymphocytes postvaccination and postchallenge revealed both correlates and surrogates of protective efficacy. The frequency of central memory T lymphocytes present at 12 weeks postvaccination (at the time of M. bovis challenge) correlated significantly with protection. Conversely, the number of IFN-γ-expressing effector T cells present after M. bovis challenge was correlated with disease. These results demonstrate that vaccination of neonatal calves with either BCG Pasteur or BCG Danish induces protective immune responses against TB. In addition, we show that measurement of antigen-specific T lymphocyte populations may provide a reliable means for identifying protective vaccine candidates.
PMCID: PMC3067386  PMID: 21228141
17.  The Glycosylated Rv1860 Protein of Mycobacterium tuberculosis Inhibits Dendritic Cell Mediated TH1 and TH17 Polarization of T Cells and Abrogates Protective Immunity Conferred by BCG 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(6):e1004176.
We previously reported interferon gamma secretion by human CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in response to recombinant E. coli-expressed Rv1860 protein of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) as well as protection of guinea pigs against a challenge with virulent MTB following prime-boost immunization with DNA vaccine and poxvirus expressing Rv1860. In contrast, a Statens Serum Institute Mycobacterium bovis BCG (BCG-SSI) recombinant expressing MTB Rv1860 (BCG-TB1860) showed loss of protective ability compared to the parent BCG strain expressing the control GFP protein (BCG-GFP). Since Rv1860 is a secreted mannosylated protein of MTB and BCG, we investigated the effect of BCG-TB1860 on innate immunity. Relative to BCG-GFP, BCG-TB1860 effected a significant near total reduction both in secretion of cytokines IL-2, IL-12p40, IL-12p70, TNF-α, IL-6 and IL-10, and up regulation of co-stimulatory molecules MHC-II, CD40, CD54, CD80 and CD86 by infected bone marrow derived dendritic cells (BMDC), while leaving secreted levels of TGF-β unchanged. These effects were mimicked by BCG-TB1860His which carried a 6-Histidine tag at the C-terminus of Rv1860, killed sonicated preparations of BCG-TB1860 and purified H37Rv-derived Rv1860 glycoprotein added to BCG-GFP, but not by E. coli-expressed recombinant Rv1860. Most importantly, BMDC exposed to BCG-TB1860 failed to polarize allogeneic as well as syngeneic T cells to secrete IFN-γ and IL-17 relative to BCG-GFP. Splenocytes from mice infected with BCG-SSI showed significantly less proliferation and secretion of IL-2, IFN-γ and IL-17, but secreted higher levels of IL-10 in response to in vitro restimulation with BCG-TB1860 compared to BCG-GFP. Spleens from mice infected with BCG-TB1860 also harboured significantly fewer DC expressing MHC-II, IL-12, IL-2 and TNF-α compared to mice infected with BCG-GFP. Glycoproteins of MTB, through their deleterious effects on DC may thus contribute to suppress the generation of a TH1- and TH17-dominated adaptive immune response that is vital for protection against tuberculosis.
Author Summary
Tuberculosis (TB), although recognized as an infectious disease for centuries, is still the leading cause of human deaths, claiming a million lives annually. Successful control of TB, either through drugs or effective preventive vaccines has not been achieved despite decades of research. We have studied the role for mannosylated protein Rv1860 of MTB in interfering with the early response of dendritic cells, which belong to the host's innate immune arsenal, to this mycobacterium. We were able to show that incorporating the gene coding for Rv1860 of MTB into the safe vaccine strain BCG resulted in loss of BCG's protective ability in the guinea pig animal model. Using primary mouse bone marrow derived dendritic cells in vitro as well as spleen dendritic cells from infected mice, we show in this study that exposure to mannosylated Rv1860 leads to loss of dendritic cell functions such as cytokine secretion and T cell activation. This leads to defective downstream T cell responses to the mycobacteria. We suggest that altering or extinguishing the expression of such glycoproteins by mycobacteria may be a strategy for developing better vaccines against TB.
PMCID: PMC4055742  PMID: 24945624
18.  Revaccination of Neonatal Calves with Mycobacterium bovis BCG Reduces the Level of Protection against Bovine Tuberculosis Induced by a Single Vaccination  
Infection and Immunity  2003;71(11):6411-6419.
Cattle may provide a suitable model for testing ways of improving tuberculosis vaccine efficacy in human infants. A vaccination and challenge study was undertaken in calves to determine the optimal time to vaccinate neonatal animals with Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) for protection against tuberculosis and to determine whether revaccination with BCG was beneficial. Calves (10 per group) were vaccinated with BCG within 8 h of birth or at 6 weeks of age, when immune responses to antigens of environmental mycobacteria were detectable, or vaccinated at birth and revaccinated at 6 weeks. A control group was not vaccinated. BCG vaccination at birth induced strong antigen-specific gamma interferon (IFN-γ) and interleukin-2 (IL-2) responses and antigen-specific activation in CD4+, CD8+, and WC1+ γδ T-cell subsets from blood. The proportions of animals per group with macroscopic tuberculous lesions after challenge were 0/10 for BCG at birth, 1/9 for BCG at 6 weeks, 4/10 for the revaccinated group, and 10/10 for the nonvaccinated group. There was no significant difference in the levels of protection between groups vaccinated at birth or at 6 weeks, while animals vaccinated both at birth and at 6 weeks had significantly less protection than those vaccinated only at birth. The revaccinated calves that subsequently developed tuberculous lesions had significantly stronger IFN-γ and IL-2 responses to bovine purified protein derivative after the BCG booster than those in the same group that did not develop lesions. The results indicated that BCG vaccination at birth induced a high level of immunity and that the sensitization of very young animals to antigens of environmental mycobacteria by 6 weeks of age did not affect the effectiveness of BCG. However, BCG revaccination of these young animals was contraindicated.
PMCID: PMC219550  PMID: 14573662
19.  Cellular Immune Responses to Recombinant Mycobacterium bovis BCG Constructs Expressing Major Antigens of Region of Difference 1 of Mycobacterium tuberculosis 
Besides being the most widely used vaccine directed against tuberculosis (TB) worldwide, Mycobacterium bovis BCG is also the most controversial vaccine in current use. Its protective efficacy varies widely in different parts of the world. One approach to improving the current BCG vaccine might be to produce recombinant BCG strains that express major antigens encoded by genes that are present in the M. tuberculosis-specific region of difference 1 (RD1), such as pe35, cfp10, and esat6. In this study, pe35, cfp10, and esat6 genes were cloned into shuttle plasmid pDE22 to generate the recombinant plasmids PDE22-PE35, PDE22-CFP10, and PDE22-ESAT6, which were electroporated into BCG to generate recombinant BCGs (rBCGs). The cellular immune responses (antigen-induced proliferation and secretion of selected T helper 1 [Th1], Th2, and anti-inflammatory cytokines, i.e., gamma interferon [IFN-γ], interleukin 5 [IL-5], and IL-10, respectively) that are specific to the proteins of cloned genes were studied by using spleen cells from mice immunized with native BCGs and rBCGs and synthetic peptides covering the protein sequence of the cloned genes. The results showed that the spleen cells did not secrete IL-5, whereas IL-10 was secreted in response to peptides of all three proteins from mice immunized with rBCGs only, suggesting expression of the cloned genes and in vivo priming of spleen cells to the expressed proteins. However, in Th1 cell assays that correlate with protective cellular immune responses, i.e., antigen-induced proliferation and IFN-γ secretion, only mice immunized with rBCG-pDE22-PE35 yielded positive responses to the peptides of PE35. These results suggest that rBCG-PDE22-PE35 is the only one of the three vaccines used in this work that is worthy of consideration as a new vaccine candidate against TB.
PMCID: PMC3754513  PMID: 23761657
20.  Genomic and proteomic analyses of Mycobacterium bovis BCG Mexico 1931 reveal a diverse immunogenic repertoire against tuberculosis infection 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:493.
Studies of Mycobacterium bovis BCG strains used in different countries and vaccination programs show clear variations in the genomes and immune protective properties of BCG strains. The aim of this study was to characterise the genomic and immune proteomic profile of the BCG 1931 strain used in Mexico.
BCG Mexico 1931 has a circular chromosome of 4,350,386 bp with a G+C content and numbers of genes and pseudogenes similar to those of BCG Tokyo and BCG Pasteur. BCG Mexico 1931 lacks Region of Difference 1 (RD1), RD2 and N-RD18 and one copy of IS6110, indicating that BCG Mexico 1931 belongs to DU2 group IV within the BCG vaccine genealogy. In addition, this strain contains three new RDs, which are 53 (RDMex01), 655 (RDMex02) and 2,847 bp (REDMex03) long, and 55 single-nucleotide polymorphisms representing non-synonymous mutations compared to BCG Pasteur and BCG Tokyo. In a comparative proteomic analysis, the BCG Mexico 1931, Danish, Phipps and Tokyo strains showed 812, 794, 791 and 701 protein spots, respectively. The same analysis showed that BCG Mexico 1931 shares 62% of its protein spots with the BCG Danish strain, 61% with the BCG Phipps strain and only 48% with the BCG Tokyo strain. Thirty-nine reactive spots were detected in BCG Mexico 1931 using sera from subjects with active tuberculosis infections and positive tuberculin skin tests.
BCG Mexico 1931 has a smaller genome than the BCG Pasteur and BCG Tokyo strains. Two specific deletions in BCG Mexico 1931 are described (RDMex02 and RDMex03). The loss of RDMex02 (fadD23) is associated with enhanced macrophage binding and RDMex03 contains genes that may be involved in regulatory pathways. We also describe new antigenic proteins for the first time.
PMCID: PMC3199284  PMID: 21981907
21.  Immunogenicity and Protective Efficacy of a Novel Recombinant BCG Strain Overexpressing Antigens Ag85A and Ag85B 
Recombinant Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (rBCG) strain is the promising vaccine candidate for tuberculosis (TB) prevention, which aims at providing more enduring and enhanced protection than the parental BCG vaccine. In this study, three rBCG strains overexpressing immunodominant antigens Ag85B (rBCG::85B), Ag85A (rBCG::85A), or both (rBCG::AB) of Mycobacterium tuberculosis were constructed, respectively. rBCG strains showed higher level of overexpression of Ag85A and/or Ag85B proteins than BCG containing empty vector pMV261(rBCG::261), which had low levels of endogenous expression of both proteins as expected. rBCG::AB strain could provide the strongest short-term and long-term protection in the lung against intravenous infection with virulent M. tuberculosis than rBCG::261 control and other two rBCG strains overexpressing single antigen. The stronger and longer-lasting protection provided by rBCG::AB than rBCG::261 was correlated with systemic in vitro antigen-specific IFN-γ responses. Therefore, our results indicate that rBCG::AB could be a very promising TB vaccine candidate and should be further evaluated for the preclinical test.
PMCID: PMC3337592  PMID: 22570667
22.  γδ T Cells in Immunity Induced by Mycobacterium bovis Bacillus Calmette-Guérin Vaccination  
Infection and Immunity  2004;72(3):1504-1511.
Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination is efficacious for newborns or adults with no previous exposure to environmental mycobacteria. To determine the relative contribution and the nature of γδ T-cell receptor-positive T cells in newborns, compared to CD4+ T cells, in immunity induced by M. bovis BCG vaccination, 4-week-old specific-pathogen-free pigs were vaccinated with M. bovis BCG and monitored by following the γδ T-cell immune responses. A flow cytometry-based proliferation assay and intracellular staining for gamma interferon (IFN-γ) were used to examine γδ T-cell responses. Pigs were found to mount Th1-like responses to M. bovis BCG vaccination as determined by immunoproliferation and IFN-γ production. The γδ T-cell lymphoproliferation and IFN-γ production to stimulation with mycobacterial antigens were significantly enhanced by M. bovis BCG vaccination. The relative number of proliferating γδ T cells after stimulating peripheral blood mononuclear cells with Mycobacterium tuberculosis H37Rv culture filtrate protein was higher than that of CD4+ T cells at an early time point after M. bovis BCG vaccination, but CD4+ T cells were found to be more abundant at a later time point. Although the γδ T-cell responses were dependent on the presence of CD4+ T cells for the cytokine interleukin-2, the enhanced γδ T cells were due to the intrinsic changes of γδ T cells caused by M. bovis BCG vaccination rather than being due solely to help from CD4+ T cells. Our study shows that γδ T cells from pigs at early ages are functionally enhanced by M. bovis BCG vaccination and suggests an important role for this T-cell subset in acquired immunity conferred by M. bovis BCG vaccination.
PMCID: PMC355996  PMID: 14977956
23.  Persistence of the immune response induced by BCG vaccination 
Although BCG vaccination is recommended in most countries of the world, little is known of the persistence of BCG-induced immune responses. As novel TB vaccines may be given to boost the immunity induced by neonatal BCG vaccination, evidence concerning the persistence of the BCG vaccine-induced response would help inform decisions about when such boosting would be most effective.
A randomised control study of UK adolescents was carried out to investigate persistence of BCG immune responses. Adolescents were tested for interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) response to Mycobacterium tuberculosis purified protein derivative (M.tb PPD) in a whole blood assay before, 3 months, 12 months (n = 148) and 3 years (n = 19) after receiving teenage BCG vaccination or 14 years after receiving infant BCG vaccination (n = 16).
A gradual reduction in magnitude of response was evident from 3 months to 1 year and from 1 year to 3 years following teenage vaccination, but responses 3 years after vaccination were still on average 6 times higher than before vaccination among vaccinees. Some individuals (11/86; 13%) failed to make a detectable antigen-specific response three months after vaccination, or lost the response after 1 (11/86; 13%) or 3 (3/19; 16%) years. IFN-γ response to Ag85 was measured in a subgroup of adolescents and appeared to be better maintained with no decline from 3 to 12 months. A smaller group of adolescents were tested 14 years after receiving infant BCG vaccination and 13/16 (81%) made a detectable IFN-γ response to M.tb PPD 14 years after infant vaccination as compared to 6/16 (38%) matched unvaccinated controls (p = 0.012); teenagers vaccinated in infancy were 19 times more likely to make an IFN-γ response of > 500 pg/ml than unvaccinated teenagers.
BCG vaccination in infancy and adolescence induces immunological memory to mycobacterial antigens that is still present and measurable for at least 14 years in the majority of vaccinees, although the magnitude of the peripheral blood response wanes from 3 months to 12 months and from 12 months to 3 years post vaccination. The data presented here suggest that because of such waning in the response there may be scope for boosting anti-tuberculous immunity in BCG vaccinated children anytime from 3 months post-vaccination. This supports the prime boost strategies being employed for some new TB vaccines currently under development.
PMCID: PMC2263052  PMID: 18221509
24.  Strain-Specific Differences in the Genetic Control of Two Closely Related Mycobacteria 
PLoS Pathogens  2010;6(10):e1001169.
The host response to mycobacterial infection depends on host and pathogen genetic factors. Recent studies in human populations suggest a strain specific genetic control of tuberculosis. To test for mycobacterial-strain specific genetic control of susceptibility to infection under highly controlled experimental conditions, we performed a comparative genetic analysis using the A/J- and C57BL/6J-derived recombinant congenic (RC) mouse panel infected with the Russia and Pasteur strains of Mycobacterium bovis Bacille Calmette Guérin (BCG). Bacillary counts in the lung and spleen at weeks 1 and 6 post infection were used as a measure of susceptibility. By performing genome-wide linkage analyses of loci that impact on tissue-specific bacillary burden, we were able to show the importance of correcting for strain background effects in the RC panel. When linkage analysis was adjusted on strain background, we detected a single locus on chromosome 11 that impacted on pulmonary counts of BCG Russia but not Pasteur. The same locus also controlled the splenic counts of BCG Russia but not Pasteur. By contrast, a locus on chromosome 1 which was indistinguishable from Nramp1 impacted on splenic bacillary counts of both BCG Russia and Pasteur. Additionally, dependent upon BCG strain, tissue and time post infection, we detected 9 distinct loci associated with bacillary counts. Hence, the ensemble of genetic loci impacting on BCG infection revealed a highly dynamic picture of genetic control that reflected both the course of infection and the infecting strain. This high degree of adaptation of host genetics to strain-specific pathogenesis is expected to provide a suitable framework for the selection of specific host-mycobacteria combinations during co-evolution of mycobacteria with humans.
Author Summary
Susceptibility to mycobacterial infection results from a complex interaction between host and bacterial genetic factors. To examine the effect of host and pathogen genetic variability on the control of mycobacterial infection, we infected a panel of genetically related recombinant congenic (RC) mouse strains with two closely related strains of Mycobacterium bovis BCG. Bacterial counts of BCG Russia and BCG Pasteur were determined in the lung and spleen at 1 and 6 weeks following infection and used for genetic analysis. A novel analytical approach was developed to perform genome-wide linkage analyses using the RC strains. Comparative linkage analysis using this model identified a strong genetic effect on chromosome 1 controlling counts of BCG Pasteur at 1 week and of BCG Russia at 1 week and 6 weeks in the spleen. A locus impacting on late BCG Russia counts in the lung and spleen was identified on chromosome 11. Nine additional loci were shown to control bacterial counts in a tissue-, time-, and BCG strain-specific manner. Our findings suggest that the host genetic control of mycobacterial infection is highly dynamic and adapted to the stage of pathogenesis and to the infecting strain. Such a high degree of genetic plasticity in the host-pathogen interplay is expected to favour evolutionary co-adaptation in mycobacterial disease.
PMCID: PMC2965770  PMID: 21060820
25.  Comparison of immune responses of mice immunized with five different Mycobacterium bovis BCG vaccine strains. 
Infection and Immunity  1996;64(1):1-9.
Among the various parameters which may contribute to Mycobacterium bovis BCG vaccination efficiency, the choice of the vaccine strain may play an important role. In the present study, we therefore compared the immunogenicity of five different BCG strains that are commonly used for BCG vaccine production (Glaxo 1077, Japanese 172, Pasteur 1173P2, Prague, and Russian strains). The comparison of the growth capacity of these BCG strains in BALB/c and C3H mice demonstrated that a great difference exists between the capacity of various BCG strains to multiply and persist in target organs. A much lower recovery of BCG could be shown in mice immunized with Prague and Japanese BCG strains. T-cell responses of BCG-immunized mice were also examined by analyzing T-cell proliferative responses, cytokine production, delayed-type hypersensitivity responses, and cytotoxic activity. All these assays demonstrated that BCG immunization induced strong CD4+ T-cell responses, mostly of the Th1 type, as demonstrated by interleukin-2 and gamma interferon production. These studies also demonstrated that there are differences between BCG strains in stimulating these T-cell responses. A lack of induction of cytotoxic activity was observed following immunization with the Japanese strain. Lower anti-purified protein derivative antibody responses were also observed after intravenous or oral immunization with this BCG strain. Finally, the protective activity of these BCG strains was tested by measuring the capacity of immunized mice to eliminate recombinant Pasteur and Japanese BCG strains which expressed beta-galactosidase. The results of these experiments clearly demonstrated that the Prague and Japanese strains were unable to protect mice against a second mycobacterial challenge whereas mice immunized with the Glaxo, Pasteur, or Russian strain eliminated the recombinant BCG very efficiently. Altogether, the results of the present study strongly support the view that there are considerable differences in the immunogenicity of various BCG vaccine strains and that these differences may play a major role in BCG vaccination efficiency.
PMCID: PMC173719  PMID: 8557324

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