Immunological responses and protective immunity in BCG vaccinated badgers following endobronchial infection with Mycobacterium bovis

Vaccine. 2009 Jan 14;27(3):402-9. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2008.10.068. Epub 2008 Nov 14.


European badgers (Meles meles) are a reservoir host of Mycobacterium bovis and are implicated in the transmission of tuberculosis to cattle in Ireland and Great Britain. The development of a vaccine for use in badgers is considered a key element of any campaign to eradicate the disease in livestock in both countries. In this study we have vaccinated groups of badgers with approximately 5 x 10(5)cfu of the BCG vaccine delivered via two alternative routes, subcutaneous and mucosal (intranasal/conjunctival). Following experimental endobronchial infection with approximately 10(4)cfu of M. bovis, all badgers were euthanised at 12 weeks post-infection. At post-mortem examination both vaccinated groups had significantly reduced severity of disease compared with the non-vaccinated controls. The analysis of immune responses throughout the study showed that vaccination with BCG did not generate any detectable immunological responses as measured by IFN-gamma production in antigen-stimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and IgG serological responses. However, the levels of the responses increased following M. bovis infection, and the kinetic profiles corresponded to the severity of lesions recorded post-mortem. Significant differences were observed in the timing of development of the immune responses between vaccinates and controls. The results suggest that the immunological responses are associated with the levels of protective immunity and could be used as markers to monitor control of disease in badgers following vaccination.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / blood
  • BCG Vaccine / immunology*
  • Cattle
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Disease Reservoirs*
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Interferon-gamma / metabolism
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / immunology
  • Lung / microbiology
  • Mustelidae / immunology*
  • Mustelidae / microbiology*
  • Mycobacterium bovis / immunology*
  • Peptide Fragments / metabolism
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Tuberculosis, Bovine / pathology
  • Tuberculosis, Bovine / prevention & control*


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • BCG Vaccine
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Peptide Fragments
  • interferon gamma (1-39)
  • Interferon-gamma