Immunogenicity of Recombinant BCG Producing the GRA1 Antigen From Toxoplasma Gondii

Vaccine. 1999 Feb 26;17(7-8):705-14. doi: 10.1016/s0264-410x(98)00255-2.


Toxoplasmosis is a major parasitic disease, responsible for foetopathy in humans and domestic animals, especially sheep. Toxoplasma gondii infection generally protects immunocompetent hosts against subsequent reinfection, suggesting that efficacious vaccines can be developed against this disease. Excreted/secreted T. gondii antigens have previously been shown to provide immunoprotection in small rodents, and protective immunity is thought to be cell-mediated. Mycobacterium bovis BCG is known to be a good inducer of cellular immunity. In this study, we have developed a BCG strain which produces and secretes GRA1, one of the major excreted/secreted T. gondii antigens. This strain does not carry antibiotic-resistance determinants and is therefore safe for the environment. The intraperitoneal immunisation of OF1 outbred mice with this BCG strain failed to induce GRA1-specific humoral or cellular immune responses and only conferred a very limited degree of protection against challenge with virulent T. gondii. However, in sheep immunised subcutaneously and boosted intravenously, this recombinant BCG strain induced GRA1-specific cell-mediated responses, as evidenced by the proliferation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells and by the production of IFN-gamma, although it failed to elicit GRA1-specific antibody responses. Following oocyst challenge infection, sheep immunised with recombinant BCG exhibited an abbreviated temperature response compared with controls, suggesting partial protection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Protozoan / biosynthesis*
  • Antigens, Protozoan / genetics
  • Antigens, Protozoan / immunology*
  • BCG Vaccine / genetics
  • BCG Vaccine / immunology*
  • BCG Vaccine / metabolism
  • Female
  • Mice
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / immunology*
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Sheep / immunology
  • Toxoplasma / genetics
  • Toxoplasma / immunology*
  • Toxoplasmosis, Animal / immunology
  • Toxoplasmosis, Animal / prevention & control
  • Vaccines, Synthetic / biosynthesis
  • Vaccines, Synthetic / immunology*


  • Antigens, Protozoan
  • BCG Vaccine
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Vaccines, Synthetic