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Clin Infect Dis. 1995 Jan;20(1):126-35.

Relationship between bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) strains and the efficacy of BCG vaccine in the prevention of tuberculosis.

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Infectious Disease Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.


Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination for the prevention of tuberculosis has been used in humans since 1921. Furthermore, for > 60 years it has been possible to separate BCG strains (defined here as a BCG vaccine maintained in a particular laboratory and used in a particular trial or set of trials) on the basis of in vitro and in vivo tests. Investigators have concluded that differences in the BCG strains used in efficacy trials on humans may be responsible for the wide range in levels of protection from tuberculosis reported in those trials. We review the development of the separate strains used in the trials included in a recent meta-analysis and examine data for and against the protective efficacy of different BCG strains. The difficulties in correlating results of in vitro and in vivo tests with protective efficacy in humans are discussed. The limited data available from human studies suggest that the BCG strain used for vaccination is not a significant determinant of the overall efficacy in the prevention of tuberculosis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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