The Mycobacterium tuberculosis genome contains two large gene families encoding proteins of unknown function, characterized by conserved N-terminal proline and glutamate (PE and PPE) motifs. The presence of a large number of PE/PPE proteins with repetitive domains and evidence of strain variation has given rise to the suggestion that these proteins may play a role in immune evasion via antigenic variation, while emerging data suggests that some family members may play important roles in mycobacterial pathogenesis. In this study, we examined cellular immune responses to a panel of 36 PE/PPE proteins during human and bovine infection. We observed a distinct hierarchy of immune recognition, reflected both in the repertoire of PE/PPE peptide recognition in individual cows and humans and in the magnitude of IFN-γ responses elicited by stimulation of sensitized host cells. The pattern of immunodominance was strikingly similar between cattle that had been experimentally infected with Mycobacterium bovis and humans naturally infected with clinical isolates of M. tuberculosis. The same pattern was maintained as disease progressed throughout a four-month course of infection in cattle, and between humans with latent as well as active tuberculosis. Detailed analysis of PE/PPE responses at the peptide level suggests that antigenic cross-reactivity amongst related family members is a major determinant in the observed differences in immune hierarchy. Taken together, these results demonstrate that a subset of PE/PPE proteins are major targets of the cellular immune response to tuberculosis, and are recognized at multiple stages of infection and in different disease states. Thus this work identifies a number of novel antigens that could find application in vaccine development, and provides new insights into PE/PPE biology.
Bovine tuberculosis in domestic livestock such as cattle is an economically important disease with zoonotic potential, particularly in countries with emerging economies. We discuss the findings of recent epidemiological and immunological studies conducted in Ethiopia on host susceptibility differences between native zebu and the exotic Holstein–Friesian cattle that are increasingly part of the Ethiopian National herd, due to the drive to increase milk yields. These findings support the hypothesis that native Zebu cattle are more resistant to bovine tuberculosis. We also summarise the results of experimental infections that support the epidemiological data, and of laboratory experiments that suggest a role for the innate immune response, and in particular interleukin-6, in the outcome of bovine tuberculosis infection.
Zebu; Holstein–Friesian; Bovine tuberculosis; Susceptibility; Innate immune responses
Genome sequencing of Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex members has accelerated the search for new disease-control tools. Antigen mining is one area that has benefited enormously from access to genome data. As part of an ongoing antigen mining programme, we screened genes that were previously identified by transcriptome analysis as upregulated in response to an in vitro acid shock for their in vivo expression profile and antigenicity. We show that the genes encoding two methyltransferases, Mb1438c/Rv1403c and Mb1440c/Rv1404c, were highly upregulated in a mouse model of infection, and were antigenic in M. bovis-infected cattle. As the genes encoding these antigens were highly upregulated in vivo, we sought to define their genetic regulation. A mutant was constructed that was deleted for their putative regulator, Mb1439/Rv1404; loss of the regulator led to increased expression of the flanking methyltransferases and a defined set of distal genes. This work has therefore generated both applied and fundamental outputs, with the description of novel mycobacterial antigens that can now be moved into field trials, but also with the description of a regulatory network that is responsive to both in vivo and in vitro stimuli.
When analyzing microarray data, non-biological variation introduces uncertainty in the analysis and interpretation. In this paper we focus on the validation of significant differences in gene expression levels, or normalized channel intensity levels with respect to different experimental conditions and with replicated measurements. A myriad of methods have been proposed to study differences in gene expression levels and to assign significance values as a measure of confidence. In this paper we compare several methods, including SAM, regularized t-test, mixture modeling, Wilk’s lambda score and variance stabilization. From this comparison we developed a weighted resampling approach and applied it to gene deletions in Mycobacterium bovis.
We discuss the assumptions, model structure, computational complexity and applicability to microarray data. The results of our study justified the theoretical basis of the weighted resampling approach, which clearly outperforms the others.
Algorithms were implemented using the statistical programming language R and available on the author’s web-page.
A number of single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) have been identified in the genome of Mycobacterium bovis BCG Pasteur compared with the sequenced strain M. bovis 2122/97. The functional consequences of many of these mutations remain to be described; however, mutations in genes encoding regulators may be particularly relevant to global phenotypic changes such as loss of virulence, since alteration of a regulator's function will affect the expression of a wide range of genes. One such SNP falls in bcg3145, encoding a member of the AfsR/DnrI/SARP class of global transcriptional regulators, that replaces a highly conserved glutamic acid residue at position 159 (E159G) with glycine in a tetratricopeptide repeat (TPR) located in the bacterial transcriptional activation (BTA) domain of BCG3145. TPR domains are associated with protein–protein interactions, and a conserved core (helices T1–T7) of the BTA domain seems to be required for proper function of SARP-family proteins. Structural modelling predicted that the E159G mutation perturbs the third α-helix of the BTA domain and could therefore have functional consequences. The E159G SNP was found to be present in all BCG strains, but absent from virulent M. bovis and Mycobacterium tuberculosis strains. By overexpressing BCG3145 and Rv3124 in BCG and H37Rv and monitoring transcriptome changes using microarrays, we determined that BCG3145/Rv3124 acts as a positive transcriptional regulator of the molybdopterin biosynthesis moa1 locus, and we suggest that rv3124 be renamed moaR1. The SNP in bcg3145 was found to have a subtle effect on the activity of MoaR1, suggesting that this mutation is not a key event in the attenuation of BCG.
To more closely understand the mechanisms of how BCG vaccination confers immunity would help to rationally design improved tuberculosis vaccines that are urgently required. Given the established central role of CD4 T cells in BCG induced immunity, we sought to characterise the generation of memory CD4 T cell responses to BCG vaccination and M. bovis infection in a murine challenge model. We demonstrate that a single systemic BCG vaccination induces distinct systemic and mucosal populations of T effector memory (TEM) cells in vaccinated mice. These CD4+CD44hiCD62LloCD27− T cells concomitantly produce IFN-γ and TNF-α, or IFN-γ, IL-2 and TNF-α and have a higher cytokine median fluorescence intensity MFI or ‘quality of response’ than single cytokine producing cells. These cells are maintained for long periods (>16 months) in BCG protected mice, maintaining a vaccine–specific functionality. Following virulent mycobacterial challenge, these cells underwent significant expansion in the lungs and are, therefore, strongly associated with protection against M. bovis challenge. Our data demonstrate that a persistent mucosal population of TEM cells can be induced by parenteral immunization, a feature only previously associated with mucosal immunization routes; and that these multifunctional TEM cells are strongly associated with protection. We propose that these cells mediate protective immunity, and that vaccines designed to increase the number of relevant antigen-specific TEM in the lung may represent a new generation of TB vaccines.
In order to identify cytokines that may be useful as candidates for inclusion in diagnostic tests for Mycobacterium bovis infection in cattle, we compared the levels of gamma interferon (IFN-γ), interleukin 1β (IL-1β), IL-4, IL-10, IL-12, macrophage inflammatory protein 1β (MIP-1β), and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) in whole-blood cultures from tuberculosis (TB) reactor animals or TB-free controls following stimulation with M. bovis-specific antigens (purified protein derivative from M. bovis [PPD-B] or ESAT-6/CFP-10). In addition to IFN-γ responses, the production of IL-1β and TNF-α was also statistically significantly elevated in TB reactor cattle over that in uninfected controls following stimulation with PPD-B or ESAT-6/CFP-10 peptides. Thus, we evaluated whether the use of these two additional readouts could disclose further animals not detected by measuring IFN-γ alone. To this end, receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analyses were performed to define diagnostic cutoffs for positivity for TNF-α and IL-1β. These results revealed that for ESAT-6/CFP-10-induced responses, the use of all three readouts (IFN-γ, TNF-α, and IL-1β) in parallel increased the sensitivity of detection of M. bovis-infected animals by 11% but also resulted in a specificity decrease of 14%. However, applying only IFN-γ and IL-1β in parallel resulted in a 5% increase in sensitivity without the corresponding loss of specificity. The results for PPD-B-induced responses were similar, although the loss of specificity was more pronounced, even when only IFN-γ and IL-1β were used as readout systems. In conclusion, we have demonstrated that the use of an additional readout system, such as IL-1β, can potentially complement IFN-γ by increasing overall test sensitivity for the detection of M. bovis infection in cattle.
In developing countries, the conventional test and slaughter strategy for the control of bovine tuberculosis is prohibitively expensive, and alternative control methods such as vaccination are urgently required. In this study, the efficacy of Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) for protection against bovine tuberculosis (bTB) was evaluated in Holstein calves under field conditions in Ethiopia. Thirteen neonatally vaccinated and 14 control calves were exposed for 10 to 23 months to skin test reactor cows. Gamma interferon (IFN-γ) testing, comparative intradermal tuberculin testing, postmortem examination, and bacteriological culture were used for the evaluation of BCG efficacy. The overall mean pathology score was significantly (P < 0.05) higher in control calves than in vaccinated calves. Culture positivity for Mycobacterium bovis was higher in the control calves than in the vaccinated calves, and significantly more BCG-vaccinated animals would have passed a standard meat inspection (P = 0.021). Overall, the protective efficacy of BCG was between 56% and 68%, depending on the parameters selected. Moreover, by measuring gamma interferon responses to the antigens ESAT-6 and CFP-10, which are present in M. bovis but absent from BCG, throughout the experiment, we were able to distinguish between vaccinated animals that were protected against bTB and those animals that were not protected. In conclusion, the present trial demonstrated an encouraging protective effect of BCG against bTB in a natural transmission setting in Ethiopia.
The principal surveillance tool used to control bovine tuberculosis in cattle is the removal of animals that provide a positive response to the tuberculin skin-test. In this study we performed a longitudinal investigation of the immunological and diagnostic consequences of repeated short-interval skin-tests in cattle naturally infected with Mycobacterium bovis. Tuberculin skin-test positive cattle were subjected to up to four further intradermal comparative cervical skin-tests at approximately 60-day intervals. A significant progressive reduction in the strength of the skin-test was observed after successive tests. In contrast, the magnitude of interferon-γ (IFN-γ) responses was not influenced by repeat skin-testing either transiently around the time of each skin-test or longitudinally following repeated tests. A significant boost in blood interleukin-10 (IL-10) production was observed within 3 days following each skin-test although the magnitude of this boosted response returned to lower levels by day 10 post-test. The application of a novel multiplex assay to simultaneously measure seven cytokines and chemokines also identified that skin-testing resulted in a significant and progressive reduction in antigen specific interleukin-1β (IL-1β) whilst confirming stable IFN-γ and elevated IL-10 responses in the blood. Therefore, we have demonstrated that in cattle naturally infected with M. bovis, repeat short-interval skin-testing can lead to a progressive reduction in skin-test responsiveness which has potential negative consequences for the detection of infected animals with marginal or inconclusive skin-test responses. The desensitising effect is associated with decreased IL-1β and elevated IL-10 responses, but importantly, does not influence antigen specific IFN-γ responses.
bovine tuberculosis; skin-testing; gamma-interferon; interleukin-10; interleukin-1β
To date, the most promising vaccination strategies for the control of bovine tuberculosis (TB) focus on improving the efficacy of Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG). However, vaccination with BCG results in sensitization of animals to bovine tuberculin and compromises tests currently used for diagnosis of bovine TB infection. Thus, the development of specific diagnostic reagents capable of discriminating between infected and uninfected vaccinated animals (DIVA) is of high priority. To test the hypothesis that M. bovis-secreted proteins are likely to contain immunogenic antigens that can be used to increase the specificity of diagnostic tests, we screened 379 pools of overlapping peptides representing 119 antigens for their ability to stimulate a gamma inferferon (IFN-γ) response in vitro using whole blood from both TB reactor and BCG-vaccinated animals. Peptide pools representing antigens Rv3020c and Rv2346c induced responses in 61% and 57% of the TB reactor animals, respectively, without inducing responses in any BCG-vaccinated animal studied. Furthermore, individual peptides contained within pools recognized by BCG vaccinates were identified that were specific and induced IFN-γ responses in TB reactor animals. From these results, we constructed a cocktail of nine peptides representing multiple antigen targets that was recognized by 54% of TB reactor animals but also failed to induce responses in any BCG-vaccinated animal studied. In summary, we have identified three peptide cocktails for prioritization in larger trials to discriminate between M. bovis infection and BCG vaccination.
Results of previous studies utilizing bioinformatic approaches in antigen-mining experiments revealed that secreted proteins are among the most frequently recognized antigens from Mycobacterium bovis. Thus, we hypothesized that the analysis of secreted proteins is likely to reveal additional immunogenic antigens that can be used to increase the specificity of diagnostic tests or be suitable vaccination candidates for mycobacterial infections. To test this hypothesis, 382 pools of overlapping peptides spanning 119 M. bovis secreted and potentially secreted proteins were screened for the ability to stimulate a gamma interferon response in vitro using whole blood from tuberculin-positive reactor (TB reactor) cattle. Of the 119 proteins screened, 70 (59%) induced positive responses in the TB reactor animals to various degrees. Strikingly, all but one of the 15 ESAT-6 proteins tested were recognized by at least 30% of the TB reactor animals, with 12 of the 22 most commonly recognized antigens belonging to this protein family. Further analysis of these data demonstrated that there was no significant difference in immunogenicity between the ESAT-6 proteins that were components of potentially intact ESX secretory systems and those corresponding to additional partial esx loci. Importantly for vaccine design, antigenic epitopes in some highly conserved regions shared by numerous ESAT-6 proteins were identified. However, despite this considerable homology, peptide-mapping experiments also revealed that immunodominant peptides were located in regions of amino acid variability.
To better understand the global effects of “natural” lesions in genes involved in the pyruvate metabolism in Mycobacterium bovis, null mutations were made in the Mycobacterium tuberculosis H37Rv ald and pykA genes to mimic the M. bovis situation. Like M. bovis, the M. tuberculosis ΔpykA mutant yielded dysgonic colonies on solid medium lacking pyruvate, whereas colony morphology was eugonic on pyruvate-containing medium. Global effects of the loss of the pykA gene, possibly underlying colony morphology, were investigated by using proteomics on cultures grown in the same conditions. The levels of Icd2 increased and those of Icl and PckA decreased in the ΔpykA knockout. Proteomics suggested that the synthesis of enzymes involved in fatty acid and lipid biosynthesis were decreased, whereas those involved in β-oxidation were increased in the M. tuberculosis ΔpykA mutant, as confirmed by direct assays for these activities. Thus, the loss of pykA from M. tuberculosis results in fatty acids being used principally for energy production, in contrast to the situation in the host when carbon from fatty acids is conserved through the glyoxylate cycle and gluconeogenesis; when an active pykA gene was introduced into M. bovis, the opposite effects occurred. Proteins involved in oxidative stress—AhpC, KatG, and SodA—showed increased synthesis in the ΔpykA mutant, and iron-regulated proteins were also affected. Ald levels were decreased in the ΔpykA knockout, explaining why an M. tuberculosis ΔpykA Δald double mutant showed little additional phenotypic effect. Overall, these data show that the loss of the pykA gene has powerful, global effects on proteins associated with central metabolism.
Tuberculosis (TB) remains one of the most important infectious diseases of humans and animals. Mycobacterium bovis BCG, the only currently available TB vaccine, demonstrates variable levels of efficacy; therefore, a replacement or supplement to BCG is required. Protein subunit vaccines have shown promise but require the use of adjuvants to enhance their immunogenicity. Using the protective mycobacterial antigen Rv3019c, we have evaluated the induction of relevant immune responses by adjuvant formulations directly in the target species for bovine TB vaccines and compared these to responses induced by BCG. We demonstrate that two classes of adjuvant induce distinct immune phenotypes in cattle, a fact not previously reported for mice. A water/oil emulsion induced both an effector cell and a central memory response. A cationic-liposome adjuvant induced a central memory response alone, similar to that induced by BCG. This suggests that water/oil emulsions may be the most promising formulations. These results demonstrate the importance of testing adjuvant formulations directly in the target species and the necessity of measuring different types of immune response when evaluating immune responses.
Previous work with small-animal laboratory models of tuberculosis has shown that vaccination strategies based on heterologous prime-boost protocols using Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) to prime and modified vaccinia virus Ankara strain (MVA85A) or recombinant attenuated adenoviruses (Ad85A) expressing the mycobacterial antigen Ag85A to boost may increase the protective efficacy of BCG. Here we report the first efficacy data on using these vaccines in cattle, a natural target species of tuberculous infection. Protection was determined by measuring development of disease as an end point after M. bovis challenge. Either Ad85A or MVA85A boosting resulted in protection superior to that given by BCG alone: boosting BCG with MVA85A or Ad85A induced significant reduction in pathology in four/eight parameters assessed, while BCG vaccination alone did so in only one parameter studied. Protection was particularly evident in the lungs of vaccinated animals (median lung scores for naïve and BCG-, BCG/MVA85A-, and BCG/Ad85A-vaccinated animals were 10.5, 5, 2.5, and 0, respectively). The bacterial loads in lymph node tissues were also reduced after viral boosting of BCG-vaccinated calves compared to those in BCG-only-vaccinated animals. Analysis of vaccine-induced immunity identified memory responses measured by cultured enzyme-linked immunospot assay as well as in vitro interleukin-17 production as predictors of vaccination success, as both responses, measured before challenge, correlated positively with the degree of protection. Therefore, this study provides evidence of improved protection against tuberculosis by viral booster vaccination in a natural target species and has prioritized potential correlates of vaccine efficacy for further evaluation. These findings also have implications for human tuberculosis vaccine development.
In parts of Great Britain and Ireland, Eurasian badgers (Meles meles) constitute a reservoir of Mycobacterium bovis infection and a potential source of infection for cattle. In vitro diagnostic tests for live badgers are an important component of strategies to control TB in this species. Immunological tests have been developed for badgers, although little is known about the influence of the age of the animal on test performance. To address this, we evaluated the performance of three immunological tests for badgers with respect to the age of the animal: the Brock Test and BrockTB STAT-PAK® serological tests and the recently developed interferon-gamma enzyme immunoassay (IFNγ EIA). Data published elsewhere suggested that seropositivity was associated with more progressive forms of TB in the badger. To gain further evidence for this, we used longitudinal data from a well-studied population of badgers to test for an association between the sensitivity of the Brock Test and the duration of TB infection.
Sensitivity of the two serological tests was approximately 54% for both cubs and adults. Sensitivity of the IFNγ EIA was lower in cubs (57%) compared with adults (85%) when a common cut-off value was used to define test positivity. Taking data from the cubs alone, the IFNγ EIA cut-off value could be adjusted to increase the sensitivity to 71% with no loss in specificity. As a general observation, specificity of all tests was higher in cubs, although only significantly so in the case of the Brock Test. Using logistic regression analysis to adjust for age, sensitivity of the Brock Test was significantly lower at first culture positive event (58%), but increased to >80% as infection progressed.
These data suggest that serodiagnosis could be a valuable tool for detecting a higher proportion of badgers with the greatest probability of transmitting infection. The age category of the badger appeared to exert little influence on the performance of the serological tests. Although data were only available for the IFNγ EIA in a small number of cubs, reduced sensitivity of the test in these individuals suggests a lower cut-off may be needed when testing younger animals.
To further unravel the mechanisms responsible for attenuation of the tuberculosis vaccine Mycobacterium bovis BCG, comparative genomics was used to identify single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that differed between sequenced strains of Mycobacterium bovis and M. bovis BCG. SNPs were assayed in M. bovis isolates from France and the United Kingdom and from different BCG vaccines in order to identify those that arose during the attenuation process which gave rise to BCG. Informative data sets were obtained for 658 SNPs from 21 virulent M. bovis strains and 13 BCG strains; these SNPs showed phylogenetic clustering that was consistent with the geographical origin of the strains and previous schemes for BCG genealogies. The data revealed a closer relationship between BCG Tice and BCG Pasteur than was previously appreciated, while we were able to position BCG Beijing within a grouping of BCG Denmark-derived strains. Only 186 SNPs were identified between virulent M. bovis strains and all BCG strains, with 115 nonsynonymous SNPs affecting important functions such as global regulators, transcriptional factors, and central metabolism, which might impact on virulence. We therefore refine previous genealogies of BCG vaccines and define a minimal set of SNPs between virulent M. bovis strains and the attenuated BCG strain that will underpin future functional analyses.
Bovine tuberculosis (bTB), caused by Mycobacterium bovis, is a debilitating disease of cattle. Ethiopia has one of the largest cattle populations in the world, with an economy highly dependent on its livestock. Furthermore, Ethiopia has one of the highest incidence rates of human extrapulmonary TB in the world, a clinical presentation that is often associated with transmission of M. bovis from cattle to humans.
Here we present a comprehensive investigation of the prevalence of bTB in Ethiopia based on cases identified at slaughterhouses. Out of approximately 32,800 inspected cattle, ∼4.7% showed suspect tuberculous lesions. Culture of suspect lesions yielded acid-fast bacilli in ∼11% of cases, with M. bovis accounting for 58 of 171 acid-fast cultures, while 53 isolates were non-tuberculous mycobacteria. Strikingly, M. tuberculosis was isolated from eight cattle, an unusual finding that suggests human to animal transmission.
Our analysis has revealed that bTB is widely spread throughout Ethiopia, albeit at a low prevalence, and provides underpinning evidence for public health policy formulation.
Tuberculous infections caused by mycobacteria, especially tuberculosis of humans and cattle, are important both clinically and economically. Human populations can be vaccinated with Mycobacterium bovis bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG), and control measures for cattle involving vaccination are now being actively considered. However, diagnostic tests based on tuberculin cannot distinguish between genuine infection and vaccination with BCG. Therefore, identification of differential diagnostic antigens capable of making this distinction is required, and until now sequence-based approaches have been predominant. Here we explored the link between antigenicity and mRNA expression level, as well as the possibility that we may be able to detect differential antigens by analyzing quantified global transcriptional profiles. We generated a list of 14 candidate antigens that are highly expressed in Mycobacterium tuberculosis and M. bovis under a variety of growth conditions. These candidates were screened in M. bovis-infected and naïve cattle for the ability to stimulate a gamma interferon (IFN-γ) response. We identified one antigen, Rv3615c, which stimulated IFN-γ responses in a significant proportion of M. bovis-infected cattle (11 of 30 cattle [37%] [P < 0.01]) but not in naïve or BCG-vaccinated animals. Importantly, the same antigen stimulated IFN-γ responses in a significant proportion of infected cattle that did not respond to the well-characterized mycobacterial antigens ESAT-6 and CFP-10. Therefore, use of the Rv3615c epitope in combination with previously described differential tests based on ESAT-6 and CFP-10 has the potential to significantly increase diagnostic sensitivity without reducing specificity in BCG-vaccinated populations.
Increased incidence of bovine tuberculosis (TB) in the United Kingdom caused by infection with Mycobacterium bovis is a cause of considerable economic loss to farmers and the government. The Eurasian badger (Meles meles) represents a wildlife source of recurrent M. bovis infections of cattle in the United Kingdom, and its vaccination against TB with M. bovis bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) is an attractive disease control option. Delivery of BCG in oral bait holds the best prospect for vaccinating badgers over a wide geographical area. Using a guinea pig pulmonary challenge model, we evaluated the protective efficacy of candidate badger oral vaccines, based on broth-grown or ball-milled BCG, delivered either as aqueous suspensions or formulated in two lipids with differing fatty acid profiles (one being animal derived and the other being vegetable derived). Protection was determined in terms of increasing body weight after aerosol challenge with virulent M. bovis, reduced dissemination of M. bovis to the spleen, and, in the case of one oral formulation, restricted growth of M. bovis in the lungs. Only oral BCG formulated in lipid gave significant protection. These data point to the potential of the BCG-lipid formulation for further development as a tool for controlling tuberculosis in badgers.
Current efforts are aimed at optimizing the protective efficacy of Mycobacterium bovis BCG by the use of vaccine combinations. We have recently demonstrated that the protection afforded by BCG alone is enhanced by vaccinating cattle with a combination of vaccines comprising BCG and a protein tuberculosis vaccine, namely, culture filtrate proteins (CFPs) from M. bovis plus an adjuvant. In the current study, three different adjuvant systems were compared. The CFP was formulated with a depot adjuvant, dimethyldioctadecyl ammonium bromide (DDA), together with one of three different immunostimulants: monophosphoryl lipid A (MPL), a synthetic mycobacterial phosphatidylinositol mannoside-2 (PIM2), and a synthetic lipopeptide (Pam3Cys-SKKKK [Pam3CSK4]). Groups of cattle (n = 10/group) were vaccinated with BCG-CFP-DDA-PIM2, BCG-CFP-DDA-MPL, or BCG-CFP-DDA-Pam3CSK4. Two additional groups (n = 10) were vaccinated with BCG alone or BCG-adjuvant (DDA-MPL), and a control group was left unvaccinated. Protection was assessed by challenging the cattle intratracheally with M. bovis. Groups of cattle vaccinated with BCG-CFP-DDA-PIM2, BCG-CFP-DDA-MPL, BCG-CFP-DDA-Pam3CSK4, and BCG alone showed significant reductions in three, three, five, and three pathological and microbiological disease parameters, respectively, compared to the results for the nonvaccinated group. Vaccination with the combination of BCG and the DDA-MPL adjuvant alone abrogated the protection conferred by BCG alone. The profiling of cytokine gene expression following vaccination, prior to challenge, did not illuminate significant differences which could explain the latter result. Vaccination of cattle with a combination of BCG and protein tuberculosis vaccine enhances protection against tuberculosis.
A lateral-flow immunoassay (BrockTB Stat-Pak) for detecting tuberculosis in Eurasian badgers was 49% sensitive and 93% specific against culture for M. bovis (n = 1,464) at necropsy. However, the sensitivity was significantly higher (66 to 78%) in animals with more severe tuberculosis, indicating that the BrockTB Stat-Pak may be useful for the detection of badgers with the greatest risk of transmitting disease.
In this study, we determined if the sensitivity of the currently available in vitro test to detect bovine tuberculosis could be enhanced by adding the following immunomodulators: interleukin-2 (IL-2); granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF); antibodies neutralizing IL-10 and transforming growth factor β (TGF-β); mono-methyl-l-arginine, which blocks nitric oxide production; and l-methyl-tryptophan, which interferes with the indoleamine dioxygenase pathway. Blood was obtained from uninfected control cattle, experimentally infected cattle, cattle responding positively to the skin test in tuberculosis-free areas (false positives), and cattle naturally infected with Mycobacterium bovis from New Zealand and Great Britain. Gamma interferon (IFN-γ) responses to bovine purified protein derivative (PPD-b), avian purified protein derivative, and a fusion protein of ESAT-6 and CFP-10 were measured. Mono-methyl-l-arginine, l-methyl-tryptophan, or an antibody neutralizing TGF-β had minimal impact on IFN-γ production. IL-2 and GM-CSF promoted IFN-γ release whether antigen was present or not. In contrast, adding an antibody against IL-10 enhanced only antigen-specific responses. In particular, addition of anti-IL-10 to ESAT-6/CFP-10-stimulated blood cultures enhanced the test sensitivity. Furthermore, whole blood cells from field reactors produced substantial amounts of IL-10 upon stimulation with PPD-b or ESAT-6/CFP-10. Testing “false-positive” cattle from tuberculosis-free areas of New Zealand revealed that addition of anti-IL-10 did not compromise the test specificity. Therefore, the use of ESAT-6/CFP-10 with anti-IL-10 could be useful to detect cattle potentially infected with tuberculosis, which are not detected using current procedures.