Recombinant Mycobacterium bovis bacille Calmette-Guèrin (rBCG) expressing three T cell epitopes of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) Ag85B antigen (P1, P2, P3) fused to the Mtb8.4 protein (rBCG018) or a combination of these antigens fused to B cell epitopes from ESAT-6, CFP-10 and MTP40 proteins (rBCG032) were used to immunize Balb/c mice. Total IgG responses were determined against Mtb8.4 antigen and ESAT-6 and CFP-10 B cell epitopes after immunization with rBCG032. Mice immunized with rBCG032 showed a significant increase in IgG1 and IgG2a antibodies against ESAT-6 and MTP40 (P1) B cell epitopes and IgG3 against both P1 and P2 B cell epitopes of MPT40. Splenocytes from mice immunized with rBCG018 proliferated against Ag85B P2 and P3 T cell epitopes and Mtb8.4 protein whereas those from mice-immunized with rBCG032 responded against all Ag85B epitopes and the ESAT-6 B cell epitope. CD4⁺ and CD8⁺ lymphocytes from mice immunized with rBCG018 produced primarily Th1 type cytokines in response to the T cell epitopes. Similar pattern of recognition against the T cell epitopes were obtained with rBCG032 with the additional recognition of ESAT-6, CFP-10 and one of the MTP40 B cell epitopes with the same pattern of cytokines. This study demonstrates that rBCG constructs expressing either T or T and B cell epitopes of MTB induced appropriate immunogenicity against MTB.
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