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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.  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
4.  A randomized clinical trial in adults and newborns in South Africa to compare the safety and immunogenicity of bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine administration via a disposable-syringe jet injector to conventional technique with needle and syringe 
Vaccine  2015;33(37):4719-4726.
Intradermal bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination by needle-free, disposable-syringe jet injectors (DSJI) is an alternative to the Mantoux method using needle and syringe (NS). We compared the safety and immunogenicity of BCG administration via the DSJI and NS techniques in adults and newborn infants at the South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative (SATVI) research site in South Africa.
Thirty adults and 66 newborn infants were randomized 1:1 to receive intradermal BCG vaccine (0.1 mL in adults; 0.05 mL in infants) via DSJI or NS. Wheal diameter (mm) and skin fluid deposition at the site of injection (SOI) were measured immediately post-vaccination. Adverse events and SOI reactogenicity data were collected 30 min and 1, 2, 4, and 12 weeks after vaccination for adults and at 30 min and 4, 10, and 14 weeks for infants. Blood was collected in infants at 10 and 14 weeks to assess BCG-specific T-cell immune responses.
More infant BCG vaccinations by DSJI deposited >5 μL fluid on the skin surface, compared to NS (49% versus 9%, p = 0.001). However, all 12 infant vaccinations that did not produce any SOI wheal occurred in the NS group (36%, p < 0.001). Median wheal diameter, in participants for which an SOI wheal formed, did not differ significantly between groups in infants (combined 3.0 mm IQR 2.0 to 4.0, p = 0.59) or in adults (combined 9.0 mm IQR 7.0 to 10.0, p = 0.13). Adverse events were similar between study arms. Proportion of participants with BCG scars after three months did not differ in adults (combined 97%, p = 0.67) or infants (combined 62%, p = 0.13). Frequencies of BCG-specific clusters of differentiation 4 (CD4) and clusters of differentiation 8 (CD8) T-cells co-expressing IFN-γ, TNF-α, IL-2, and/or IL-17 were not different in the DSJI and NS groups.
BCG vaccination of newborn infants via DSJI was more likely to deliver an appropriate intradermal wheal at the SOI as compared to NS, despite leaving more fluid on the surface of the skin. Safety, reactogenicity, and antigen-specific T-cell immune responses did not differ between DSJI and NS techniques.
PMCID: PMC4564069  PMID: 25862299
BCG; Jet injector; Intradermal vaccine; Mantoux; Vaccine administration; AE, adverse event; BCG, bacille Calmette-Guérin; CD4/CD8, cluster of differentiation 4/8; CFU, colony-forming units; DSJI, disposable-syringe jet injector; ICS, intracellular cytokine staining; IQR, interquartile range; NS, needle and syringe; SATVI, South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative; SOI, site of injection; TB, tuberculosis; Th1, T helper type 1 cells
5.  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
6.  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
7.  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
8.  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
9.  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
10.  Immunogenicity of BCG in HIV-exposed and non-exposed infants following routine birth or delayed vaccination 
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) exposed infants are at high risk of Mycobacterium tuberculosis exposure, have high rates of progression to tuberculosis (TB) disease and are at significant risk of bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) induced adverse events.
To evaluate a delayed BCG vaccination strategy in HIV-exposed infants.
A randomised trial of routine BCG vaccination given at birth compared to 14 weeks of age in HIV-exposed non-infected and non-HIV-exposed infants to investigate longitudinal BCG-induced immune responses using a 7-day whole blood interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.
A significantly higher proportion of infants had positive responses to M. tuberculosis purified protein derivative (PPD) and BCG at 14 weeks in the birth vs. delayed vaccination groups (P = 0.001 for both). This difference was no longer apparent at weeks 24 or 52. Among infants vaccinated at birth, the 14-week IFN-γ response to M. tuberculosis PPD was lower among HIV-exposed than non-exposed infants (276.5 pg/ml vs. 790.2, P = 0.048). Among all infants, there were significant correlations between the magnitude of IFN-γ responses to BCG, M. tuberculosis PPD, TB 10.4 and culture filtrate protein 10/early secreted antigenic target 6.
The timing of vaccination had limited effect on BCG-induced IFN-γ responses, which waned considerably over 1 year despite initial vigorous responses in both vaccination groups. The lower responses in HIV-exposed non-infected infants suggest potentially altered mycobacterial immunity early in life.
PMCID: PMC4530999  PMID: 25860002
TB; randomised vaccine trial; IFN-γ; response; ELISA
11.  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
12.  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
13.  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
14.  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
15.  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
16.  Formulation of a mmaA4 Gene Deletion Mutant of Mycobacterium bovis BCG in Cationic Liposomes Significantly Enhances Protection against Tuberculosis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e32959.
A new vaccination strategy is urgently needed for improved control of the global tuberculosis (TB) epidemic. Using a mouse aerosol Mycobacterium tuberculosis challenge model, we investigated the protective efficacy of a mmaA4 gene deletion mutant of Mycobacterium bovis BCG (ΔmmaA4BCG) formulated in dimethyl dioctadecyl ammonium bromide (DDA) – D(+) trehalose 6,6 dibenenate (TDB) (DDA/TDB) adjuvant. In previous studies, deletion of the mmaA4 gene was shown to reduce the suppression of IL-12 production often seen after mycobacterial infections. While the non-adjuvanted ΔmmaA4BCG strain did not protect mice substantially better than conventional BCG against a tuberculous challenge in four protection experiments, the protective responses induced by the ΔmmaA4BCG vaccine formulated in DDA/TDB adjuvant was consistently increased relative to nonadjuvanted BCG controls. Furthermore, the ΔmmaA4BCG-DDA/TDB vaccine induced significantly higher frequencies of multifunctional (MFT) CD4 T cells expressing both IFNγ and TNFα (double positive) or IFNγ, TNFα and IL-2 (triple positive) than CD4 T cells derived from mice vaccinated with BCG. These MFT cells were characterized by having higher IFNγ and TNFα median fluorescence intensity (MFI) values than monofunctional CD4 T cells. Interestingly, both BCG/adjuvant and ΔmmaA4BCG/adjuvant formulations induced significantly higher frequencies of CD4 T cells expressing TNFα and IL-2 than nonadjuvanted BCG or ΔmmaA4BCG vaccines indicating that BCG/adjuvant mixtures may be more effective at inducing central memory T cells. Importantly, when either conventional BCG or the mutant were formulated in adjuvant and administered to SCID mice or immunocompromised mice depleted of IFNγ, significantly lower vaccine-derived mycobacterial CFU were detected relative to immunodeficient mice injected with non-adjuvanted BCG. Overall, these data suggest that immunization with the ΔmmaA4BCG/adjuvant formulation may be an effective, safe, and relatively inexpensive alternative to vaccination with conventional BCG.
PMCID: PMC3307709  PMID: 22442674
17.  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
18.  Oral Polio Vaccine Influences the Immune Response to BCG Vaccination. A Natural Experiment 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(5):e10328.
Oral polio vaccine (OPV) is recommended to be given at birth together with BCG vaccine. While we were conducting two trials including low-birth-weight (LBW) and normal-birth-weight (NBW) infants in Guinea-Bissau, OPV was not available during some periods and therefore some infants did not receive OPV at birth, but only BCG. We investigated the effect of OPV given simultaneously with BCG at birth on the immune response to BCG vaccine.
Methods and Findings
We compared the in vitro and the in vivo response to PPD in the infants who received OPV and BCG with that of infants who received BCG only. At age 6 weeks, the in vitro cytokine response to purified protein derivate (PPD) of M. Tuberculosis was reduced in LBW and NBW infants who had received OPV with BCG. In a pooled analysis receiving OPV with BCG at birth was associated with significantly lower IL-13 (p = 0.041) and IFN-γ (p = 0.004) and a tendency for lower IL-10 (p = 0.054) in response to PPD. Furthermore, OPV was associated with reduced in vivo response to PPD at age 2 months, the prevalence ratio (PR) of having a PPD reaction being 0.75 (0.58–0.98), p = 0.033, and with a tendency for reduced likelihood of having a BCG scar (0.95 (0.91–1.00), p = 0.057)). Among children with a scar, OPV was associated with reduced scar size, the regression coefficient being −0.24 (−0.43—0.05), p = 0.012.
This study is the first to address the consequences for the immune response to BCG of simultaneous administration with OPV. Worryingly, the results indicate that the common practice in low-income countries of administering OPV together with BCG at birth may down-regulate the response to BCG vaccine.
PMCID: PMC2873948  PMID: 20502641
19.  Bacille Calmette Guerin vaccination of human newborns induces T cells with complex cytokine and phenotypic profiles 
The immune response to vaccination with Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG), the only tuberculosis vaccine available, has not been fully characterized. We used multiparameter flow cytometry to examine specific T cell cytokine production and phenotypic profiles in blood from 10-week old infants, routinely vaccinated with BCG at birth. Ex vivo stimulation of whole blood with BCG for 12 hours induced expression of predominantly IFN-γ, IL-2 and TNF-α in CD4+ T cells, in 7 distinct cytokine combinations. IL-4 and IL-10 expression were detected in CD4+ T cells at low frequencies, and only in cells that did not co-express Type 1 cytokines. Specific CD8+ T cells were less frequent than CD4+ T cells, and produced mainly IFN-γ and/or IL-2, and less TNF-α, IL-4 and IL-10. Importantly, many mycobacteria-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cells did not produce IFN-γ. The predominant phenotype of BCG-specific Type 1 T cells was that of effector cells, i.e., CD45RA–CCR7–CD27+, which may reflect persistence of M. bovis BCG in infants until 10 weeks of age. Among 5 phenotypic patterns of CD4+ T cells, central memory cells were more likely to be IL-2+, and effector cells more likely to be IFN-γ+. We concluded that neonatal vaccination with BCG induces T cells with a complex pattern of cytokine expression and phenotypes. Measuring IFN-γ production alone underestimates the magnitude and complexity of the host cytokine response to BCG vaccination, and may not be an optimal readout in studies of BCG and novel tuberculosis vaccination.
PMCID: PMC2842001  PMID: 18292584
Human; Th1/Th2 Cells; T cells; Cytokines; Memory; Vaccination
20.  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
21.  A New Recombinant BCG Vaccine Safely Induces Significantly Enhanced TB-specific Immunity in Human Volunteers 
The Journal of infectious diseases  2008;198(10):1491-1501.
One strategy for improving anti-tuberculosis (TB) vaccination involves the use of recombinant Bacillus Calmette Guérin (rBCG) overexpressing protective TB antigens. rBCG30, overexpressing the Mycobacterium tuberculosis secreted antigen, Ag85b, was the first rBCG shown to induce significantly greater TB protection in animals than parental BCG.
We report the first phase I, double-blind trial of rBCG30 in 35 adults randomized to receive rBCG30 or parental Tice BCG intradermally. Clinical reactogenicity was assessed and state-of-the-art immunological assays used to study Ag85b-specific immune responses induced by both vaccines.
Similar clinical reactogenicity occurred with both vaccines. rBCG30 induced significantly increased Ag85b-specific T cell lymphoproliferation, IFN-γ secretion, IFN-γ ELISPOT responses, and direct ex vivo intracellular IFN-γ responses. Additional flow cytometric studies measuring CFSE dilution and intracellular cytokine production demonstrated that rBCG30 significantly enhanced Ag85b-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cells capable of concurrent expansion and effector function. More importantly, rBCG30 significantly increased Ag85b-specific T cells capable of inhibiting intracellular mycobacteria.
These results provide proof-of-principal that rBCG can safely enhance human TB immunity, and support further development of rBCG overexpressing Ag85b for TB vaccination.
PMCID: PMC2670060  PMID: 18808333
(3-10); TB Vaccination; recombinant BCG; T cell immunity
22.  The Tuberculin Skin Test (TST) Is Affected by Recent BCG Vaccination but Not by Exposure to Non-Tuberculosis Mycobacteria (NTM) during Early Life 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(8):e12287.
The tuberculin skin test (TST) is widely used in TB clinics to aid Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb) diagnosis, but the definition and the significance of a positive test in very young children is still unclear. This study compared the TST in Gambian children at 4½ months of age who either received BCG vaccination at birth (Group 1) or were BCG naïve (Group 2) in order to examine the role of BCG vaccination and/or exposure to environmental mycobacteria in TST reactivity at this age. Nearly half of the BCG vaccinated children had a positive TST (≥5 mm) whereas all the BCG naïve children were non-reactive, confirming that recent BCG vaccination affects TST reactivity. The BCG naïve children demonstrated in vitro PPD responses in peripheral blood in the absence of TST reactivity, supporting exposure to and priming by environmental mycobacterial antigens. Group 2 were then vaccinated at 4½ months of age and a repeat TST was performed at 20–28 months of age. Positive reactivity (≥5 mm) was evident in 11.1% and 12.5% infants from Group 1 and Group 2 respectively suggesting that the timing of BCG vaccination had little effect by this age. We further assessed for immune correlates in peripheral blood at 4½ months of age. Mycobacterial specific IFNγ responses were greater in TST responders than in non-responders, although the size of induration did not correlate with IFNγ. However the IFNγ: IL-10 ratio positively correlated with TST induration suggesting that the relationship between PPD induced IFNγ and IL-10 in the peripheral blood may be important in controlling TST reactivity. Collectively these data provide further insights into how the TST is regulated in early life, and how a positive response might be interpreted.
PMCID: PMC2924396  PMID: 20808814
23.  The impact of HIV exposure and maternal Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection on infant immune responses to bacille Calmette-Guérin vaccination 
AIDS (London, England)  2015;29(2):155-165.
The objective of this study is to assess the effect of maternal HIV and Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) infection on cellular responses to bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) immunization.
A mother–infant cohort study.
Samples were collected from mother–infant pairs at delivery. Infants were BCG-vaccinated at 6 weeks of age and a repeat blood sample was collected from infants at 16 weeks of age. BCG-specific T-cell proliferation and intracellular cytokine expression were measured by flow cytometry. Secreted cytokines and chemokines in cell culture supernatants were analysed using a Multiplex assay.
One hundred and nine (47 HIV-exposed and 62 HIV-unexposed) mother–infants pairs were recruited after delivery and followed longitudinally. At birth, proportions of mycobacteria-specific proliferating T cells were not associated with either in-utero HIV exposure or maternal Mtb sensitization. However, in-utero HIV exposure affected infant-specific T-cell subsets [tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) single positive proliferating CD4+ T cells and interferon-gamma (IFN-γ), TNF-α dual-positive CD4+ T cells]. Levels of TNF-α protein in cell culture supernatants were also significantly higher in HIV-exposed infants born to Mtb-sensitized mothers. In the presence of maternal Mtb sensitization, frequencies of maternal and newborn BCG-specific proliferating CD4+ T cells were positively correlated. Following BCG vaccination, there was no demonstrable effect of HIV exposure or maternal Mtb infection on infant BCG-specific T-cell proliferative responses or concentrations of secreted cytokines and chemokines.
Effects of maternal HIV and Mtb infection on infant immune profiles at birth are transient only, and HIV-exposed, noninfected infants have the same potential to respond to and be protected by BCG vaccination as HIV-unexposed infants.
PMCID: PMC4284011  PMID: 25535752
bacille Calmette-Guérin; HIV infection; HIV-exposed; immunogenicity; Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection; uninfected infants; vaccination
24.  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
25.  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

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