BCG: a vaccine with multiple faces.
BCG has been recommended because of its efficacy against disseminated and meningeal tuberculosis. The BCG vaccine has other mechanisms of action besides tuberculosis protection, with immunomodulatory properties that are now being discovered. Reports have shown a significant protective effect against leprosy. Randomized controlled trials suggest that BCG vaccine has beneficial heterologous (nonspecific) effects on mortality in some developing countries. BCG immunotherapy is considered the gold standard adjuvant treatment for non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer. BCG vaccine has also been tested as treatment for diabetes and multiple sclerosis. Erythema of the BCG site is recognized as a clinical clue in Kawasaki disease. BCG administration in the immunodeficient patient is associated with local BCG disease (BCGitis) or disseminated BCG disease (BCGosis) with fatal consequences. BCG administration has been associated with the development of autoimmunity. We present a brief review of the diverse facets of the vaccine, with the discovery of its new modes of action providing new perspectives on this old, multifaceted and controversial vaccine.