Rationale: Tuberculosis (TB) is a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, thus there is an urgent need for novel TB vaccines.
Objectives: We investigated a novel TB vaccine candidate, M72/AS01, in a phase IIa trial of bacille Calmette-Guérin–vaccinated, HIV-uninfected, and Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb)–infected and -uninfected adults in South Africa.
Methods: Two doses of M72/AS01 were administered to healthy adults, with and without latent Mtb infection. Participants were monitored for 7 months after the first dose; cytokine production profiles, cell cycling, and regulatory phenotypes of vaccine-induced T cells were measured by flow cytometry.
Measurements and Main Results: The vaccine had a clinically acceptable safety profile, and induced robust, long-lived M72-specific T-cell and antibody responses. M72-specific CD4 T cells produced multiple combinations of Th1 cytokines. Analysis of T-cell Ki67 expression showed that most vaccination-induced T cells did not express Th1 cytokines or IL-17; these cytokine-negative Ki67+ T cells included subsets of CD4 T cells with regulatory phenotypes. PD-1, a negative regulator of activated T cells, was transiently expressed on M72-specific CD4 T cells after vaccination. Specific T-cell subsets were present at significantly higher frequencies after vaccination of Mtb-infected versus -uninfected participants.
Conclusions: M72/AS01 is clinically well tolerated in Mtb-infected and -uninfected adults, induces high frequencies of multifunctional T cells, and boosts distinct T-cell responses primed by natural Mtb infection. Moreover, these results provide important novel insights into how this immunity may be appropriately regulated after novel TB vaccination of Mtb-infected and -uninfected individuals.
Clinical trial registered with www.clinicaltrials.gov (NCT 00600782).