Whole blood RNA signatures in tuberculosis patients receiving H56:IC31 vaccine as adjunctive therapy

Front Immunol. 2024 Feb 16:15:1350593. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2024.1350593. eCollection 2024.


Introduction: Therapeutic vaccination in tuberculosis (TB) represents a Host Directed Therapy strategy which enhances immune responses in order to improve clinical outcomes and shorten TB treatment. Previously, we have shown that the subunit H56:IC31 vaccine induced both humoral and cellular immune responses when administered to TB patients adjunctive to standard TB treatment (TBCOX2 study, NCT02503839). Here we present the longitudinal whole blood gene expression patterns in H56:IC31 vaccinated TB patients compared to controls receiving standard TB treatment only.

Methods: The H56:IC31 group (N=11) and Control group (N=7) underwent first-line TB treatment for 182 days. The H56:IC31 group received 5 micrograms of the H56:IC31 vaccine (Statens Serum Institut; SSI, Valneva Austria GmbH) intramuscularly at day 84 and day 140. Total RNA was extracted from whole blood samples collected in PAXgene tubes on days 0, 84, 98, 140, 154, 182 and 238. The expression level of 183 immune-related genes was measured by high-throughput microfluidic qPCR (Biomark HD system, Standard BioTools).

Results: The targeted gene expression profiling unveiled the upregulation of modules such as interferon (IFN) signalling genes, pattern recognition receptors and small nucleotide guanosine triphosphate (GTP)-ases in the vaccinated group compared to controls two weeks after administration of the first H56:IC31 vaccine. Additionally, the longitudinal analysis of the Adolescent Cohort Study-Correlation of Risk (ACS-COR) signature showed a progressive downregulation in both study arms towards the end of TB treatment, in congruence with reported treatment responses and clinical improvements. Still, two months after the end of TB treatment, vaccinated patients, and especially those developing both cellular and humoral vaccine responses, showed a lower expression of the ACS-COR genes compared to controls.

Discussion: Our data report gene expression patterns following H56:IC31 vaccination which might be interpreted as a lower risk of relapse in therapeutically vaccinated patients. Further studies are needed to conclude if these gene expression patterns could be used as prognostic biosignatures for therapeutic TB vaccine responses.

Keywords: H56:IC31 vaccine; RNA signature; host directed therapy; transcriptomics; tuberculosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cohort Studies
  • Humans
  • Oligodeoxyribonucleotides
  • RNA
  • Tuberculosis Vaccines* / therapeutic use
  • Tuberculosis* / prevention & control


  • Oligodeoxyribonucleotides
  • Tuberculosis Vaccines
  • RNA

Grants and funding

The author(s) declare financial support was received for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article. The study was funded by The Research Council of Norway (RCN, GlobVac no 234493), Oslo University Hospital, Norway, the University of Oslo, Norway, and Statens Serum Institut, Denmark.