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Vaccine. 2006 Apr 12;24(16):3353-64. Epub 2006 Feb 6.

Priming but not boosting with plasmid DNA encoding mycolyl-transferase Ag85A from Mycobacterium tuberculosis increases the survival time of Mycobacterium bovis BCG vaccinated mice against low dose intravenous challenge with M. tuberculosis H37Rv.

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Mycobacterial Immunology, WIV-Pasteur Institute Brussels, 642 Engelandstraat, B-1180 Brussels, Belgium.


DNA vaccination is a potent means for inducing strong CD4+ (Th1) and particularly CD8+ mediated immune responses and protective immunity against tuberculosis infection in mice. Here we have analyzed the potential of a DNA vaccine encoding the immunodominant mycolyl-transferase Ag85A for increasing the efficacy of the current tuberculosis vaccine Mycobacterium bovis Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) in three long-term survival experiments. BALB/c mice were vaccinated with BCG either following DNA priming or prior to DNA boosting. Ag85A specific CD4+ and CD8+ mediated IFN-gamma responses were increased in mice primed with DNA prior to BCG, and in BCG vaccinated mice subsequently boosted with DNA. In the latter immunization protocol, antigenic stimulation also induced significant levels of IL-17. Mice were monitored for cachexia and survival following a low dose intravenous challenge with M. tuberculosis H37Rv. Priming with Ag85A but not control DNA increased significantly the protective efficacy of the BCG vaccine as indicated by reduced cachexia and prolonged survival time: 32 weeks versus 23 weeks in one experiment and 33 weeks versus 26 weeks in another experiment (MST in control, TB infected mice: 17 weeks in both experiments). On the other hand, boosting of BCG by subsequent Ag85A DNA in saline or vaxfectin--or recombinant 85A protein or MVA-85A for that matter--did not augment the efficacy of BCG (MST 19-21 weeks in all vaccinated groups versus 11 weeks in control, TB infected mice). Our results demonstrate that Ag85A DNA priming can increase efficacy of BCG and that boosting protocols of BCG may possibly be hampered by the induction of Th(IL-17) cells.

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