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The Mycobacterium bovis BCG vaccine has a poor record of efficacy in low-income tropical settings. Against this background, we evaluated the immune response of infants to mycobacterial antigens over the 2 years following BCG vaccination at birth by measuring the gamma interferon (IFN-gamma), interleukin-2 (IL-2), and CD154 responses of CD4 T cells. Similar numbers of cells expressed IFN-gamma in infants, 4- to 5-year-old children, and adults, while CD154 was not expressed at comparable levels until the second year of infancy. The IL-2 response remained relatively low in infants, children, and adults but correlated negatively with mother's body mass index and was highest among infants born to Mandinka mothers. Similarly, infants born in the wet season had a stronger CD154 response than those born in the dry season throughout the 2 years of the study. We conclude that the prenatal and perinatal environments have a lasting effect on the response of infants to the BCG vaccine.

Original publication




Journal article


Clin Vaccine Immunol

Publication Date





995 - 1002


Adult, BCG Vaccine, Body Mass Index, CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes, CD40 Ligand, Child, Child, Preschool, Ethnic Groups, Female, Gambia, Humans, Infant, Infant, Newborn, Interferon-gamma, Interleukin-2, Male, Maternal Welfare, Mycobacterium bovis, Seasons, Social Class, Tuberculosis