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Free Content Effect of human newborn BCG immunization on monocyte viability and function at 3 months of age

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Setting: Immune response induced by BCG vaccination seems to reflect the development of T-cell immunity and monocyte activation. Participants were recruited from a large prospective study in infants from a suburb in Santiago, Chile.

Objective: To determine whether newborn BCG immunization changes the innate ability of cultured monocyte-macrophages to ingest and kill virulent mycobacteria in the absence of lymphocytes.

Design: The study population consisted of 15 three-month-old, tuberculin-positive infants immunized with BCG (Japanese) at birth, 13 randomly-selected, age-matched tuberculin-nonreactive infants in whom BCG immunization was postponed until one year of age, and five BCG-immunized, tuberculin-reactive adults. Adherent cells were cultured for 48 h. Monocyte-macrophage viability and number and viability of intracellular Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacilli were assessed after an additional 2 h and 4 and 7 days of incubation.

Results: There was no difference in the mean number of adherent cells present after 48 h among the three study groups. Adherent cells from BCG-immunized infants and adults had a significantly higher viability after 7 days in culture than adherent cells from non-immunized infants. The percentage of cells ingesting M. tuberculosis and the number of bacilli per cell after 2 h and 4 days was significantly higher in immunized infants and adults than in non-immunized infants. However, there was no evidence for increased killing of mycobacteria by cells from immunized infants and adults.

Conclusion: These results suggest that BCG vaccination increases monocyte viability and the uptake of M. tuberculosis without enhancing the ability to kill ingested M. tuberculosis in the absence of lymphocytes.
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Keywords: BCG immunization; macrophage viability; monocyte activation; mycobacteria killing assay; newborns

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: National Institute of Respiratory Diseases and Thoracic Surgery, and Department of Medicine, University of Chile Medical School, Santiago, Chile 2: Department of Pediatrics, Hospital Luis Calvo Mackenna, University of Chile Medical School, Santiago, Chile 3: Department of Pediatrics, Louisiana State University Medical Center, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

Publication date: 1997-04-01

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  • The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease publishes articles on all aspects of lung health, including public health-related issues such as training programmes, cost-benefit analysis, legislation, epidemiology, intervention studies and health systems research. The IJTLD is dedicated to the continuing education of physicians and health personnel and the dissemination of information on tuberculosis and lung health world-wide.

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