Specific lymphoproliferation, gamma interferon production, and serum immunoglobulin G directed against a purified 32 kDa mycobacterial protein antigen (P32) in patients with active tuberculosis

Scand J Immunol. 1988 Feb;27(2):187-94. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3083.1988.tb02338.x.


Twenty-one patients treated for active tuberculosis were examined for immune reactivity to purified protein derivative (PPD) and to a purified 32-kDa protein antigen (P32) from Mycobacterium bovis, strain BCG. Lymphoproliferation of peripheral blood leucocytes to PPD and P32 was positive in 95% and 71% of the patients respectively. A positive IFN-gamma response was detected in 62% against PPD and in 48% against P32. Low blastogenesis and IFN-gamma production were observed, especially in patients with poor general health and advanced tuberculous lesions. Twelve out of twelve (100%) of the tuberculin-positive healthy volunteers responded to PPD and P32 with mean lymphoproliferation and IFN-gamma values that were higher than in the patient group. Twelve tuberculin-negative control subjects were completely unreactive to PPD and P32 antigen. On the other hand, IgG antibodies in the serum were detected in 95% of the patients against PPD, in 77% of the patients against P32 but in none of the tuberculin-positive or negative healthy volunteers. The highest IgG levels against PPD were found in those patients with the lowest in vitro lymphoproliferation and IFN-gamma production (r = -0.54; P less than 0.05). Nonspecific interferon production following induction with Newcastle disease virus, Corynebacterium parvum, or phytohaemagglutinin was comparable in the control and patient groups. Finally, low IFN-alpha titres were detected in the serum of about 50% of the patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Bacterial / immunology*
  • BCG Vaccine / standards
  • Cell Division
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular
  • Immunoglobulin G / analysis
  • Interferon-gamma / biosynthesis*
  • Lymphocytes / cytology*
  • Mycobacterium bovis / immunology*
  • Tuberculin Test
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / immunology*


  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • BCG Vaccine
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Interferon-gamma