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Infect Immun. 2008 Nov;76(11):5173-80. doi: 10.1128/IAI.00019-08. Epub 2008 Aug 18.

Mycobacterium bovis BCG immunization induces protective immunity against nine different Mycobacterium tuberculosis strains in mice.

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  • 1Laboratory of Mycobacterial Diseases and Cellular Immunology, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, United States Food and Drug Administration, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


Recent preclinical and epidemiologic studies have suggested that certain Mycobacterium tuberculosis genotypes (in particular, Beijing lineage strains) may be resistant to Mycobacterium bovis BCG vaccine-induced antituberculosis protective immunity. To investigate the strain specificity of BCG-induced protective responses in a murine model of pulmonary tuberculosis, C57BL/6 mice were vaccinated with BCG vaccine and then challenged 2 months later with one of nine M. tuberculosis isolates. Four of these strains were from the W-Beijing lineage (HN878, N4, NHN5, and ChS) while four were non-Beijing-type isolates (C913, CDC1551, NY669, and NY920). As a control, the WHO standard M. tuberculosis Erdman strain was evaluated in these vaccination/challenge experiments. To assess the protective responses evoked by BCG immunization, organ bacterial burdens and lung pathology were assessed in vaccinated and naïve mice at 4, 12, and 20 weeks postchallenge as well as during the day of infection. At 4 weeks after the aerosol challenge with each of these strains, significantly reduced bacterial growth in the lungs and spleens and significantly improved lung pathology were seen in all vaccinated animals compared to naïve controls. After 12 weeks, reduced organ bacterial burdens were detected in vaccinated animals infected with six of nine challenge strains. Although lung CFU values were lower in vaccinated mice for only three of nine groups at 20 weeks postchallenge, significantly decreased lung inflammation was seen in all immunized animals relative to controls at 20 weeks postchallenge. Taken together, these data demonstrate that BCG vaccination protects against infection with diverse M. tuberculosis strains in the mouse model of pulmonary tuberculosis and suggest that strain-specific resistance to BCG-induced protective immunity may be uncommon.

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