Background: Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) is effective in preventing disseminated tuberculosis (TB) in children but may also have non-specific benefits, and is thought to improve immunity to unrelated antigens through trained innate immunity. In HIV-infected infants, there is a risk of BCG-associated adverse events. We aimed to explore whether delaying BCG vaccination by 8 weeks, in utero or perinatal HIV infection is excluded, affected T-cell responses to B. pertussis (BP) and tetanus toxoid (TT), in HIV-exposed, uninfected infants.
Methods: Infants were randomized to receive BCG vaccination at birth or 8 weeks of age. At 8 and 14 weeks, T cell proliferation and intracellular cytokine (IL-2, IL-13, IL-17, and IFN-γ) expression was analyzed in response to BP, TT and Staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB) antigens.
Results: Delaying BCG vaccination did not alter T-cell proliferation to BP or TT antigens. Infants immunized with BCG at birth had higher CD4+ T cell proliferation to SEB at 14 weeks of age (p=0.018). Birth-vaccinated infants had increased CD8+ IL-2 expression in response to BP, but not TT or SEB, at 8 weeks. Infants vaccinated with BCG at 8 weeks had significantly lower IL-13 expression by BP-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cells at 14 weeks (p=0.032 and p=0.0035, respectively). There were no observed differences in multifunctional cytokine response to TT, BP or SEB between infants vaccinated with BCG at birth versus 8 weeks of age.
Conclusion: Delaying BCG vaccination until 8 weeks of age results in robust T-cellular responses to BP and TT in HIV-exposed infants.
Clinical trial registry: NCT02062580.
Keywords: BCG vaccine; HIV; Infants; Pertussis; T cell; Tetanus.
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