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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1996 Jan 23;93(2):934-9.

Manipulation and potentiation of antimycobacterial immunity using recombinant bacille Calmette-Guérin strains that secrete cytokines.

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  • 1Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Nine Cambridge Center, MA 02142, USA.


Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) is a live, attenuated strain of Mycobacterium bovis used widely for tuberculosis prophylaxis and bladder cancer immunotherapy, although it has limitations in both contexts. To investigate whether BCG's immunostimulatory properties could be modified, and to gain insight into the interaction between mycobacteria and their hosts, we constructed recombinant BCG strains that secrete functional murine cytokines and studied their properties in mouse models of experimental infection. Cell-mediated immune responses to mycobacterial antigen (purified protein derivative) were assayed using splenocytes from mice inoculated with various BCG recombinants. Antigen-specific proliferation and cytokine release were found to be substantially greater with splenocytes derived from mice injected with cytokine-secreting BCG than with splenocytes from mice injected with BCG lacking cytokines. The most profound effects were induced by BCG secreting interleukin 2, interferon gamma, or granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor. Thus, cytokine-secreting BCG can enhance immune responses to mycobacterial antigens and may be improved reagents for tuberculosis prophylaxis and cancer immunotherapy.

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