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Immunol Cell Biol. 2002 Jun;80(3):209-15.

Manipulation of immune responses to Mycobacterium bovis by vaccination with IL-2- and IL-18-secreting recombinant bacillus Calmette Guerin.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology,University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.


Bacillus Calmette Guerin (BCG) has been reported to show variable efficacy as a vaccine against tuberculosis. We demonstrated that the secretion of biologically active IL-2 (rBCG/IL-2),but not IL-18 (rBCG/IL-18), by BCG improves its ability to induce and maintain a strong type 1 immune response in BALB/c mice. rBCG/IL-2 induced significantly higher Ag-specific proliferative responses, high IFN-gamma production and serum titres of IgG2a 16 weeks after vaccination. This immune profile was correlated to an increased rate of clearance of non-pathogenic mycobacteria (live BCG delivered intranasally). Surprisingly, however,this strong type 1 immune profile induced no greater protective immunity against aerosol challenge with virulent Mycobacterium bovis than that induced by normal BCG (nBCG). By comparison,vaccination with rBCG/IL-18 was found to induce significantly less IFN-gamma production in splenic lymphocytes than nBCG. This impaired induction of IFN-gamma was correlated to a significantly lower protective efficacy against M. bovis challenge, as compared to nBCG. The data suggest that manipulation of the immune response to tuberculosis and tuberculosis vaccines will require a more complete understanding of the factors that are important in generating a protective immune response.

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