To develop or improve acellular vaccines against tuberculosis, scientists are in quest for the most efficient Th1 antigens. Immunization of mice with the M. tuberculosis 27-kDa antigen resulted in a strong Th1 immune response as indicated by serum analysis, splenocyte proliferation and cytokines secretion profile. Unexpectedly, mice immunized with 27-kDa turned out to be more susceptible to mycobacterial challenge as we found significant increase in the splenic cfu count compared to control groups. Moreover, the protection provided by BCG or other mycobacterial antigens was completely abolished once the 27-kDa antigen was added to the vaccine preparations. Further analysis of 27-kDa revealed that this lipoprotein is a B-cell mitogen, a feature that is known to be linked to enhanced virulence of the pathogen. However, by using the non-acylated form, 27ΔSP, we excluded the involvement of the mitogenicity of 27-kDa in its deleterious effect. Currently, there is no explanation to the fact that the 27-kDa interferes with the protective immunity of other mycobacterial antigens; however, it is clear that 27-kDa need to be excluded from any future vaccine preparations. Indeed, we developed a multivalent vaccine that consists of six other mycobacterial antigens: 85B, 38-kDa, ESAT-6, CFP21, Mtb8.4 and 16-kDa. Immunization of mice with these antigens emulsified in Ribi adjuvant system and supplemented with recombinant IFN-γ, resulted in strong Th1 immune response and a high protection level that was comparable to that of BCG.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by a grant from the Center for the Study of Emerging Diseases (CSED). The work was performed in the Peter A. Krueger P3 laboratory with the generous financial support of Nancy and Lawrence E. Glick.