Manipulation of BCG vaccine: a double-edged sword

Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis. 2016 Apr;35(4):535-43. doi: 10.1007/s10096-016-2579-y. Epub 2016 Jan 25.


Mycobacterium bovis Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG), an attenuated vaccine derived from M. bovis, is the only licensed vaccine against tuberculosis (TB). Despite its protection against TB in children, the protective efficacy in pulmonary TB is variable in adolescents and adults. In spite of the current knowledge of molecular biology, immunology and cell biology, infectious diseases such as TB and HIV/AIDS are still challenges for the scientific community. Genetic manipulation facilitates the construction of recombinant BCG (rBCG) vaccine that can be used as a highly immunogenic vaccine against TB with an improved safety profile, but, still, the manipulation of BCG vaccine to improve efficacy should be carefully considered, as it can bring in both favourable and unfavourable effects. The purpose of this review is not to comprehensively review the interaction between microorganisms and host cells in order to use rBCG expressing M. tuberculosis (Mtb) immunodominant antigens that are available in the public domain, but, rather, to also discuss the limitations of rBCG vaccine, expressing heterologous antigens, during manipulation that pave the way for a promising new vaccine approach.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Bacterial / genetics
  • Antigens, Bacterial / immunology
  • BCG Vaccine / administration & dosage
  • BCG Vaccine / genetics*
  • BCG Vaccine / immunology*
  • Drug Discovery / methods
  • Humans
  • Mycobacterium bovis / genetics*
  • Mycobacterium bovis / immunology*
  • Mycobacterium bovis / pathogenicity
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / genetics
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / immunology
  • Tuberculosis / prevention & control*
  • Vaccines, Synthetic / administration & dosage
  • Vaccines, Synthetic / genetics
  • Vaccines, Synthetic / immunology
  • Virulence


  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • BCG Vaccine
  • Vaccines, Synthetic