A 19-kDa lipoprotein from Mycobacterium tuberculosis was expressed as a recombinant antigen in the nonpathogenic mycobacterial host strain M. vaccae. Immunization of mice with the recombinant M. vaccae resulted in induction of a strong type 1 immune response to the 19-kDa antigen, characterized by immunoglobulin G2a (IgG2a) antibodies and gamma interferon (IFN-γ) production by splenocytes. Immunization with the same antigen in incomplete Freund's adjuvant induced a strong IgG1 response with only low levels of IFN-γ. Subsequent intravenous and aerosol challenges of immunized mice with virulent M. tuberculosis demonstrated no evidence of protection associated with the response to the 19-kDa antigen; in fact, the presence of the recombinant 19-kDa antigen abrogated the limited protection conferred by M. vaccae (vector control). The recombinant M. vaccae system is a convenient approach to induction of type 1 responses to M. tuberculosis antigens. However, the unexpected reduction in protective efficacy of M. vaccae expressing the 19-kDa antigen highlights the complexity of testing recombinant subunit vaccines and the need for a better understanding of the immune mechanisms required for effective vaccination against tuberculosis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases