Immune response measured in human volunteers vaccinated with autoclaved Leishmania major vaccine mixed with low dose of BCG.
The immune responses induced against Leishmania antigens in volunteers who were vaccinated in a double-blind, randomized field efficacy trial of a preparation of autoclaved Leishmania major (ALM) mixed with a low dose of Bacille Calmette-Guerin vaccine (BCG) who developed either a cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) lesion due to exposure to infected sandfly bite(s) or did not develop a lesion during the course of the trial were studied and compared with those of non-vaccinated controls. Blood samples were also assayed from different groups including volunteers with history of CL and volunteers with previous positive or negative leishmanin skin test (LST) without a history of CL. The vaccinated volunteers had received a single dose of either ALM mixed with a low dose of BCG or the same dose of BCG alone. The LST and in vitro proliferative response (stimulation index, SI), interferon gamma (IFN-gamma) production and, in a few cases, interleukin (IL)-4 production of peripheral blood mononuclear cells to soluble Leishmania antigens were measured. The results indicated that volunteers who developed CL in the vaccine arm showed a slightly higher SI than cases who received BCG alone. Volunteers with history of CL and volunteers with positive LST demonstrated the strongest proliferation indices and IFN-gamma production. The data suggest that a single dose of ALM + BCG induces a weak Th1 response in vaccinated volunteers that is far lower than that in volunteers with prior subclinical infection or volunteers with history of CL, who are presumed to be immune.