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Vaccine. 2008 Jul 23;26(31):3897-902. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2008.04.083. Epub 2008 May 21.

Poor immunogenicity of BCG in helminth infected population is associated with increased in vitro TGF-beta production.

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  • 1Armauer Hansen Research Institute, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Elias@acebiosciences.com

Abstract

The only vaccine available against tuberculosis (TB), BCG, so effective in experimental animal models, has been under scrutiny for a long time owing to its variable efficacy against pulmonary tuberculosis in adults. In this study, we evaluated whether anti-helminthic therapy prior to BCG vaccination could increase the immunogenicity of BCG vaccination in helminth infected population. We recruited volunteers with evidence of prior mycobacterial infection and who were asymptomatic carriers of helminths. The subjects were randomized to receive either anti-helminthic drugs or placebo. Three months later, BCG vaccination was administered to volunteers. Mycobacterial antigen-specific cytokine responses were assessed 2 months after vaccination. The results show that peripheral blood mononuclear cells obtained from the placebo group were found to have a lower frequency of IFN-gamma (129 vs 191, p=0.03) and IL-12 (149 vs 243, p=0.013) producing cells per 2 x 10(5) PBMC (peripheral blood mononuclear cells) when stimulated in vitro with a mycobacterial antigen mixture (purified protein derivative (PPD)) compared to those from the dewormed group. On the other hand the placebo group had higher frequency of TGF-beta producing cells in response to PPD (152 vs 81.3, p=0.002) or the T cell mitogen concanavalin A (Con A) (210 vs 157, p=0.03). However, no detectable IL-4 or IL-5 producing cells were observed when cells were stimulated with PPD. Comparable numbers of both cytokine producing cells were induced in both groups upon stimulation with concanavalin A (IL-4 217 vs 191, p=0.08) and IL-5 (131 vs 103, p=0.14). The data presented here demonstrate that chronic worm infection reduces the immunogenicity of BCG in humans and this was associated with increased TGF-beta production but not with enhanced Th2 immune response.

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