Lactoferrin: An adjuvant to enhance the efficacy of the BCG vaccine

Shen-An Hwang, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Tuberculosis (TB), caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB), is a disease with world wide consequences, affecting nearly a third of the world's population. The established vaccine for TB; an attenuated strain of Mycobacterium bovis Calmette Guerin (BCG), has existed virtually unchanged since 1921. Intensive research is focused on developing a TB vaccine that can surpass and improve the existing BCG vaccine. Lactoferrin, an iron binding protein found in mucosal secretions and granules of neutrophils was hypothesized to be an ideal adjuvant to enhance the efficacy of the BCG vaccine. Specifically, Lactoferrin enhanced the ratio of IL-12:IL-10 production from macrophages stimulated with LFS or infected with BCG, indicating the potential to affect T-cell development in vivo. Five different vaccination protocols were investigated for generation of host protective responses against MTB infection using Lactoferrin admixed to the BCG vaccine. Mice immunized and boosted at 2 weeks with BCG/Lactofefrin increased host protection against MTB infection by decreasing organ bacterial load and reducing lung histopathology. The observed postchallenge results paralleled with increasing production of IFN-γ, IL-2, TNF-α, and IL-12 from BCG stimulated splenocytes. In vitro studies examined possible mechanisms of Lactoferrin action on BCG infected macrophages and dendritic cells. Addition of Lactoferrin to BCG infected macrophages and dendritic cells increased stimulation of presensitized CD3+ and CD4+ T-cells. Analysis by fluorescent activated cell sorting (FACS) revealed an increase in surface expression of MHC I and decreased ratio of CD80/86 from BCG infected macrophages cultured with Lactoferrin. In contrast, Lactoferrin decreased surface expression of MHC I, MHC II, CD80, CD86, and CD40, but increased CD 11c, from BCG infected dendritic cells, indicating involvement of adhesion molecules. Overall, these studies indicate that Lactoferrin is a useful and effective adjuvant to improve efficacy of the BCG vaccine by enhancing generation of mycobacterial antigen specific T-cell responses through promotion of antigen presentation and T-cell stimulation.

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Recommended Citation

Hwang, Shen-An, "Lactoferrin: An adjuvant to enhance the efficacy of the BCG vaccine" (2006). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3231740.