Background. Worldwide, most infants born to mothers infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) receive bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine. Tuberculosis is a major cause of death among infants infected with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, and it should be prevented. However, BCG may itself cause disease (known as \"BCGosis\") in these infants. Information regarding the immunogenicity of BCG is imperative for the risk/benefit assessment of BCG vaccination in HIV-infected infants; however, no such data exist.
Methods. We compared BCG-induced CD4 and CD8 T cell responses, as assessed by flow cytometry, in HIV-infected (n _ 20), HIV-exposed but uninfected (n _25), and HIV-unexposed (n _23) infants, during their first year of life.
Results. BCG vaccination of the 2 HIV-uninfected groups induced a robust response, which was characterized by CD4 T cells expressing interferon (IFN)–_, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)–_, and/or interleukin (IL)–2. In contrast, HIV-infected infants demonstrated a markedly lower response throughout the first year of life. These infants also had significantly reduced numbers of polyfunctional CD4 T cells coexpressing IFN-_, TNF-_, and IL-2, a finding that is thought to indicate T cell quality.
Conclusions. Infection with HIV severely impairs the BCG-specific T cell response during the first year of life. BCG may therefore provide little, if any, vaccine-induced benefit in HIV-infected infants. Considering the significant risk of BCGosis, these data strongly support not giving BCG to HIV-infected infants.
Mansoor, N.; Scriba, T.J.; de Kock, M.; Tameris, M.; Abel, B.; Keyser, A.; Little, F.; Soares, A.; Gelderbloem, S.; Mlenjeni, S.; Denation, L.; Hawkridge, A.; Boom, W.H.; Kaplan, G.; Hussey, G.D.; Hanekom, W.A. HIV&#8208;1 Infection in Infants Severely Impairs the Immune Response Induced by Bacille Calmette&#8208;Guérin Vaccine. Journal of Infectious Diseases (2009) 199 (7) 982-990. [DOI: 10.1086/597304]