CD4+ CD25+ natural T regulatory cells (Tregs) have been shown to suppress protective immune responses in several different vaccination models. Since the effect of Tregs on vaccination against tuberculosis (Tb) was unknown, we used a murine model to investigate whether natural Tregs suppress the development of protective immunity following Mycobacterium bovis bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination. Using a monoclonal antibody against CD25, natural Tregs were inactivated prior to vaccination with BCG. The primary immune response was evaluated after BCG vaccination and the secondary immune response was assessed after an intranasal BCG challenge 42 days after vaccination. Inactivation of natural Tregs prior to vaccination led to an increased immune response 14 days after vaccination, increased numbers of antigen-responsive lymphocytes immediately prior to secondary challenge and the earlier appearance of IFN-γ-producing CD4+ and CD88 lymphocytes in the draining lymph nodes and lungs after challenge. Despite this, protection from virulent Mycobacterium tuberculosis or M. bovis aerosol challenge was unaffected by natural Treg inactivation prior to BCG vaccination. This suggests that increasing the primary and accelerating the secondary immune responses by inactivating natural Tregs at the time of vaccination, does not affect the development of protective immunity to Tb.
- T regulatory cell