Mucosal immunity against mycobacterial infection

University dissertation from Stockholm : The Wenner-Gren Institute, Stockholm University

Abstract: This thesis aimed to the identification of immune biomarkers of mycobacterial infection for better diagnosis of tuberculosis (TB) and also focused on new vaccination strategies with a particular emphasis on the immune responses in the respiratory tract using murine models.Since the lung is the natural habitat for the M. tuberculosis, we reasoned that immune responses detected locally in the lungs would be good correlates of infection (Paper I). Likewise, immune responses induced in the respiratory tract following immunization would be more effective against mycobacterial infection. We showed that cytokines (IL-12, TNF, and IFN-?) and cytokine receptors (sTNFR1 and sTNFR2) together with specific antibodies in the respiratory tract correlated better with the bacterial burden in the organs. In Paper II, we investigated the role of the BCG vaccination as a priming vaccine in a heterologous prime-boost immunization protocol. The results showed that the neonatal BCG vaccination primed the immune system for a relevant antigen and showed a generalized adjuvant effect. Using this immunization protocol, protective immune responses in the lungs were generated independently of the route used for the booster immunization. In Paper III, We showed that exposure to mycobacterial antigens during the gestational period led to antigen transportation from the mother to the fetus and this resulted in an early priming of the fetal immune system. Immunization with the same antigen during the postnatal life increased antigen-specific recall IFN-? responses and protection against infection. We examined the role of innate immunity for the induction of acquired immune responses upon immunization with mycobacterial antigens using TLR2 deficient mice (Paper IV). Our data indicated that suboptimal innate immune responses in the TLR2-/- mice might compromise the induction of acquired immune responses.Overall, the current findings suggested that a better understanding of the mucosal immunity would be useful for the improvement of diagnostic procedures and the development of efficient vaccines against TB.