Our previous studies showed that mycobacterial L-forms persist in the blood of BCG vaccinated people and that BCG vaccine is able to produce, under appropriate conditions, filterable, self-replicating L-bodies with virus-like size. Because filterability is one of the characteristics of L-forms, considerable interest has been shown in their capacity to cross the maternal-fetal barrier. The current study demonstrated isolation of mycobacterial L-form cultures from umbilical cord blood of 5 healthy newborns of healthy mothers vaccinated previously with BCG. The isolated cultures showed distinctive growth characteristics of cell wall deficient L-form bacteria. Transmission electron microscopy demonstrated presence of L-bodies with extremely small size of 100 nm and revealed morphological transformations, typical for L-forms. IS6110 Real Time PCR assay confirmed that all L-form isolates were of mycobacterial origin and belonged to Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex which includes vaccinal BCG substrains. In conclusion, we could suggest that reproductive filterable L-bodies of BCG origin are able to fall in blood circulation of the fetus by vertical transmitted pathway and colonize newborns.
Keywords: BCG; L-forms; cord blood; mycobacteria; newborns.