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Tuberculosis (TB), also known as the "White Plague", is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb). Before the COVID-19 epidemic, TB had the highest mortality rate of any single infectious disease. Vaccination is considered one of the most effective strategies for controlling TB. Despite the limitations of the Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine in terms of protection against TB among adults, it is currently the only licensed TB vaccine. Recently, with the evolution of bioinformatics and structural biology techniques to screen and optimize protective antigens of Mtb, the tremendous potential of protein subunit vaccines is being exploited. Multistage subunit vaccines obtained by fusing immunodominant antigens from different stages of TB infection are being used both to prevent and to treat TB. Additionally, the development of novel adjuvants is compensating for weaknesses of immunogenicity, which is conducive to the flourishing of subunit vaccines. With advances in the development of animal models, preclinical vaccine protection assessments are becoming increasingly accurate. This review summarizes progress in the research of protein subunit TB vaccines during the past decades to facilitate the further optimization of protein subunit vaccines that may eradicate TB. Copyright © 2023 Zhang, Xu, Hu and Fan.


Ying Zhang, Jin-Chuan Xu, Zhi-Dong Hu, Xiao-Yong Fan. Advances in protein subunit vaccines against tuberculosis. Frontiers in immunology. 2023;14:1238586

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PMID: 37654500

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