University Of Tasmania
152348 - Neonatal BCG vaccination reduces.pdf (600.67 kB)

Neonatal BCG vaccination reduces interferon-γ responsiveness to heterologous pathogens in infants from a randomized controlled trial

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 11:58 authored by Freyne, B, Messina, NL, Donath, S, Germano, S, Bonnici, R, Gardiner, K, Casalaz, D, Robins-Browne, RM, Netea, MG, Katie FlanaganKatie Flanagan, Kollmann, T, Curtis, N

Background: BCG vaccination has beneficial nonspecific (heterologous) effects that protect against nonmycobacterial infections. We have previously reported that BCG vaccination at birth alters in vitro cytokine responses to heterologous stimulants in the neonatal period. This study investigated heterologous responses in 167 infants in the same trial 7 months after randomization.

Methods: A whole-blood assay was used to interrogate in vitro cytokine responses to heterologous stimulants (killed pathogens) and Toll-like receptor (TLR) ligands.

Results: Compared to BCG-naive infants, BCG-vaccinated infants had increased production of interferon gamma (IFN-γ) and monokine induced by gamma interferon (MIG) (CXCL9) in response to mycobacterial stimulation and decreased production of IFN-γ in response to heterologous stimulation and TLR ligands. Reduced IFN-γ responses were attributable to a decrease in the proportion of infants who mounted a detectable IFN-γ response. BCG-vaccinated infants also had increased production of MIG (CXCL9) and interleukin-8 (IL-8), and decreased production of IL-10, macrophage inflammatory protein-1α (MIP-1α), and MIP-1β, the pattern of which varied by stimulant. IL-1Ra responses following TLR1/2 (Pam3CYSK4) stimulation were increased in BCG-vaccinated infants. Both sex and maternal BCG vaccination status influenced the effect of neonatal BCG vaccination.

Conclusions: BCG vaccination leads to changes in IFN-γ responsiveness to heterologous stimulation. BCG-induced changes in other cytokine responses to heterologous stimulation vary by pathogen.


Publication title

Journal of Infectious Diseases










Tasmanian School of Medicine


Oxford University Press

Place of publication

United States

Rights statement

© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press for the Infectious Diseases Society of America. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) License (, which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Prevention of human diseases and conditions