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Keywords:

  • BCG vaccination;
  • Chemokines;
  • Cytokines;
  • Heparin-binding haemagglutinin (HBHA);
  • tuberculosis

Heparin-binding haemagglutinin (HBHA)-specific immune responses have been linked to protection against tuberculosis (TB). We investigated the hypothesis that BCG vaccination of human infants primes an HBHA-specific response, using multiplex to measure secreted cytokines and chemokines following HBHA and Mycobacterium tuberculosis purified protein derivative (PPD) stimulation of diluted whole blood samples from BCG-vaccinated or -unvaccinated infants. Of 42 analytes measured, 24 and 32 significant, BCG-associated increases were detected in response to HBHA and PPD, respectively. Both response profiles included Th-1, Th-2, Th-17 and inflammatory cytokines and chemokines (e.g. IFN-γ, TNF-α, IL-5, IL-10, IL-13, IL-17, MIP-1α and MIP-1β). We also found that six of the seven responses most closely correlated with IFN-γ were common to both HBHA and PPD. Notably, all HBHA-specific secretion of cytokines and chemokines from infant samples was dependant on previous BCG vaccination. Also, long-term persistence of HBHA-specific responses was found in adolescents with evidence of infant BCG vaccination. This study demonstrates for the first time BCG priming of an HBHA-specific immune response in infants that is characterised by a broad cytokine and chemokine signature. It also suggests a number of BCG vaccination associated, HBHA-induced responses that should be useful for future studies of biomarkers of protection against TB.