Role of B Cells in Mucosal Vaccine-Induced Protective CD8+ T Cell Immunity against Pulmonary Tuberculosis

J Immunol. 2015 Sep 15;195(6):2900-7. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1500981. Epub 2015 Aug 12.


Emerging evidence suggests a role of B cells in host defense against primary pulmonary tuberculosis (TB). However, the role of B cells in TB vaccine-induced protective T cell immunity still remains unknown. Using a viral-vectored model TB vaccine and a number of experimental approaches, we have investigated the role of B cells in respiratory mucosal vaccine-induced T cell responses and protection against pulmonary TB. We found that respiratory mucosal vaccination activated Ag-specific B cell responses. Whereas respiratory mucosal vaccination elicited Ag-specific T cell responses in the airway and lung interstitium of genetic B cell-deficient (Jh(-/-) knockout [KO]) mice, the levels of airway T cell responses were lower than in wild-type hosts, which were associated with suboptimal protection against pulmonary Mycobacterium tuberculosis challenge. However, mucosal vaccination induced T cell responses in the airway and lung interstitium and protection in B cell-depleted wild-type mice to a similar extent as in B cell-competent hosts. Furthermore, by using an adoptive cell transfer approach, reconstitution of B cells in vaccinated Jh(-/-) KO mice did not enhance anti-TB protection. Moreover, respiratory mucosal vaccine-activated T cells alone were able to enhance anti-TB protection in SCID mice, and the transfer of vaccine-primed B cells alongside T cells did not further enhance such protection. Alternatively, adoptively transferring vaccine-primed T cells from Jh(-/-) KO mice into SCID mice only provided suboptimal protection. These data together suggest that B cells play a minimal role, and highlight a central role by T cells, in respiratory mucosal vaccine-induced protective immunity against M. tuberculosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acyltransferases / immunology*
  • Adoptive Transfer
  • Animals
  • Antigens, Bacterial / immunology*
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • B-Lymphocytes / transplantation
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Female
  • Immunity, Mucosal / immunology
  • Lymphocyte Depletion
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mice, SCID
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / immunology
  • Respiratory Mucosa / immunology
  • Respiratory Mucosa / microbiology
  • Tuberculosis Vaccines / immunology*
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / immunology*
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / prevention & control
  • Vaccination


  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Tuberculosis Vaccines
  • Acyltransferases
  • antigen 85A, Mycobacterium tuberculosis