This study evaluated whether different bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) strains, routes of administration, vaccination age and percutaneous tools influenced immune responses to BCG vaccination in infants. Proliferative responses, cytokine production and cell-mediated cytotoxicity obtained in post-vaccinated children were compared to baseline cord bloods and unvaccinated 10-week-old infants. BCG vaccination generally induced strong lymphoproliferative and T helper type 1 (Th1)-type cytokine responses. There was a trend for greater responsiveness following the intradermal route of vaccination, with Japanese-172 strain and with delaying vaccination until 10 weeks. Cord mononuclear cells differentially stimulated the Th2-type cytokines interleukin-5 (IL-5) and IL-10 selectively in response to BCG, as compared to H37Rv or purified protein derivative stimulation. We document for the first time the generation of mycobacterium-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes in neonates, following BCG vaccination. Cytotoxic activity correlated with the ratio of interferon-gamma to IL-5, aside from a single instance where use of the Biovac tool resulted in a striking dissociation selectively against H37Rv targets. These data have implications for correlates of protective immunity in design of vaccine studies.
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