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Vet Immunol Immunopathol. 2005 Oct 18;108(1-2):45-51.

Identification of immune response correlates for protection against bovine tuberculosis.

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AgResearch, Wallaceville Animal Research Centre, P.O. Box 40063, Upper Hutt, New Zealand.


Identification of an immune response correlate for protection against bovine tuberculosis would greatly facilitate the rational development of an effective vaccine. However, finding such a correlate has been a daunting task. Vaccination/challenge studies in cattle provide an ideal platform to compare induction of immune response parameters following vaccination and challenge, and assess the correlation of these parameters with protection. Protection against tuberculosis requires a Th 1-type cell-mediated immune response and induction of an antigen-specific interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) response was the logical first choice in an investigation to identify an immune response correlate for protection. Calf vaccination studies showed that the subcutaneous injection of BCG vaccine induced significant protection against experimental challenge with Mycobacterium bovis. This protection was associated with strong whole blood IFN-gamma responses to bovine PPD 2-4 weeks after vaccination, but within the BCG-vaccinated groups, these responses were not correlated with protection. Use of a variety of vaccination strategies has shown that IFN-gamma responses in isolation were not necessarily associated with protection and concurrent IL-4 mRNA expression or antibody responses could also be induced. Collation of an immunological profile may be more informative than a study of individual cytokines. An indication of vaccine efficacy can be provided by the study of immune responses following challenge of the calves with M. bovis. IFN-gamma responses to ESAT-6, antibody responses following tuberculin skin testing and antigen-specific IL-4 mRNA expression all correlated with the severity of disease and indirectly provided an indication of protection. Future studies should be directed towards obtaining immunological profiles of calves following vaccination using techniques such as DNA microarray analysis, measurement of cytokine mRNA expression by real-time PCR, protein profiling by SELDI-TOF mass spectrometry as well as determining cytokine production by specific T cell sub-sets in individual protected animals.

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