Indexed on: 06 Aug '10Published on: 06 Aug '10Published in: Clinical and vaccine immunology : CVI
Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) is the only tuberculosis (TB) vaccine currently available, but its efficacy against adult pulmonary TB remains controversial. BCG induces specific immune responses to mycobacterial antigens and may elicit protective immunity against TB. TB remains a major public health problem, especially among the elderly, yet the efficacy of BCG in the elderly is unknown. We investigated the ability of BCG vaccination to prevent TB in young (6-week-old), middle-aged (18-month-old), and old (60-month-old) guinea pigs. BCG-Tokyo vaccination reduced the growth of Mycobacterium tuberculosis H37Rv in all three groups. By use of an enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT) assay, antigen-specific gamma interferon (IFN-γ)-producing cells were detected in the 60-month-old guinea pigs after a booster vaccination with BCG-Tokyo. Our findings suggest that BCG-Tokyo has a protective effect against tuberculosis infection regardless of age.