Immunization with a Recombinant Bacillus Calmette–Guérin Strain Confers Protective Th1 Immunity against the Human Metapneumovirus
Palavecino CE., Céspedes PF., Gómez RS., Kalergis AM., Bueno SM.
Abstract Along with the human respiratory syncytial virus (hRSV), the human metapneumovirus (hMPV) is one of the leading causes of childhood hospitalization and a major health burden worldwide. Unfortunately, owing to an inefficient immunological memory, hMPV infection provides limited immune protection against reinfection. Furthermore, hMPV can induce an inadequate Th2 type immune response that causes severe lung inflammation, leading to airway obstruction. Similar to hRSV, it is likely that an effective clearance of hMPV would require a balanced Th1 type immunity by the host, involving the activation of IFN-γ–secreting T cells. A recognized inducer of Th1 immunity is Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette–Guérin (BCG), which has been used in newborns for many decades and in several countries as a tuberculosis vaccine. We have previously shown that immunization with BCG strains expressing hRSV Ags can induce an efficient immune response that protects against this virus. In this study, we show that immunization with rBCG strains expressing the phosphoprotein from hMPV also can induce protective Th1 immunity. Mice immunized with rBCG were protected against weight loss, airway inflammation, and viral replication in the lungs after hMPV infection. Our rBCG vaccine also induced the activation of hMPV-specific T cells producing IFN-γ and IL-2, which could protect from hMPV infection when transferred to recipient mice. These data strongly support the notion that rBCG induces protective Th1 immunity and could be considered as an efficient vaccine against hMPV.