BCG-Induced Trained Immunity in Healthy Individuals: The Effect of Plasma Muramyl Dipeptide Concentrations

J Immunol Res. 2020 Jun 15;2020:5812743. doi: 10.1155/2020/5812743. eCollection 2020.


BCG vaccination protects not only against tuberculosis but also against heterologous infections. This effect differs between individuals, yet the factors responsible for this variation are unknown. BCG-induced nonspecific protection is, at least partially, mediated by innate immune reprogramming (trained immunity), which can be induced by the muramyl dipeptide (MDP) component of peptidoglycans. We aimed to study whether differential release of MDP in healthy individuals may explain variability of their response to BCG vaccination. Circulating MDP concentrations were increased up to three months after BCG vaccination. MDP concentrations at baseline, but not their increase postvaccination, positively correlated with the induction of trained immunity and not with mycobacteria-induced T-cell responses. Interestingly, MDP concentrations correlated with inflammatory markers in the circulation. In conclusion, circulating MDP concentrations are associated with the strength of trained immunity responses and thus influence the biological effects of BCG vaccination. This study increases our understanding about the role of MDP in BCG-induced trained immunity, which might help to optimize vaccine efficacy and explore novel applications of BCG vaccination.

MeSH terms

  • Acetylmuramyl-Alanyl-Isoglutamine / blood
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • BCG Vaccine / immunology*
  • Biomarkers
  • Blood Cell Count
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Female
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunity*
  • Immunization
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Young Adult


  • BCG Vaccine
  • Biomarkers
  • Cytokines
  • Acetylmuramyl-Alanyl-Isoglutamine