Role of T cell response during vaccine immunity to tuberculosis

Cherie Michelle Roche, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Tuberculosis remains one of the leading causes of death in man due to a single infectious agent. An estimated one-third of the world's population is infected with the causative agent, Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), despite the availability of the widely used vaccine, BCG. BCG has significantly varying protection rates with the lowest level of protection seen with the most common form of TB, adult pulmonary TB. Thus, numerous studies are being conducted to develop a more efficient vaccine. The ideal candidate vaccine would possess the ability to induce a solid and strong Th1 response, as this is the subset of T cells primarily involved in clearance of the infection. A novel vaccine should also induce such a response that may be recalled and expanded upon subsequent infection. Our group has introduced a mutant of a virulent strain of Mtb which lacks a component of the immunogenic antigen 85 complex (Ag85). Our vaccine, ΔfbpA, does not secrete the fibronectin binding protein Ag85A, and this has shown to lead to its attenuation in both murine macrophages and mice. Previous studies have also proven that ΔfbpA is more protective in mice than BCG against virulent aerosol challenge with Mtb. This study addresses the mechanisms of protection observed with ΔfbpA by phenotyping responding T cells. We first evaluated the ability of dendritic cells to present the mycobacteria to naïve T cells, an in vitro mock of primary immunization. We also measured the response of primed T cells to macrophage-presented mycobacteria to interpret the possible response of a vaccinated host to a boost. We concluded that ΔfbpA can elicit a stronger Th1 response compared to BCG in vitro, and further observed that this enhanced response is at least partly due to the presence of proteins encoded by a region of the genome absent in all strains of BCG. Finally, we observed this heightened Th1 response in the mouse model after primary vaccination and a virulent aerosol challenge. The cytolytic T cell response was also measured after virulent challenge and was found to be superior in the ΔfbpA-treated group when compared to the BCG group.

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Recommended Citation

Roche, Cherie Michelle, "Role of T cell response during vaccine immunity to tuberculosis" (2008). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3335227.