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Host protective immunity against pathogenic Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) infection is variable and poorly understood. Both prior Mtb infection and BCG vaccination have been reported to confer some protection against subsequent infection and/or disease. However, the immune correlates of host protection with or without BCG vaccination remain poorly understood. Similarly, the host response to concomitant infection with mixed Mtb strains is unclear. In this study, we used the rabbit model to examine the host response to various infectious doses of virulent Mtb HN878 with and without prior BCG vaccination, as well as simultaneous infection with a mixture of two Mtb clinical isolates HN878 and CDC1551. We demonstrate that both the ability of host immunity to control pulmonary Mtb infection and the protective efficacy of BCG vaccination against the progression of Mtb infection to disease is dependent on the infectious inoculum. The host response to infection with mixed Mtb strains mirrors the differential responses seen during infection with each of the strains alone. The protective response mounted against a hyperimmunogenic Mtb strain has a limited impact on the control of disease caused by a hypervirulent strain. This preclinical study will aid in predicting the success of any vaccination strategy and in optimizing TB vaccines. © 2020 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.


Liana Tsenova, Dorothy Fallows, Afsal Kolloli, Pooja Singh, Paul O'Brien, Nicole Kushner, Gilla Kaplan, Selvakumar Subbian. Inoculum size and traits of the infecting clinical strain define the protection level against Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection in a rabbit model. European journal of immunology. 2020 Jun;50(6):858-872

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PMID: 32130727

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