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Inbred strain 2 guinea pigs were vaccinated with Mycobacterium bovis BCG or were left unvaccinated. They were maintained for 6 weeks on defined, isocaloric diets containing either 30% (control animals) or 10% (animals receiving low protein) ovalbumin as the sole protein source. Animals were challenged by the respiratory route with a low dose of virulent M. tuberculosis H37Rv and killed 4 weeks later. Protein-malnourished animals were not protected by previous vaccination with BCG. Lymphocytes isolated from various tissues were tested in vitro for proliferative responses to mitogen (concanavalin A) and antigen (purified protein derivative [PPD]), production of interleukin-2 (IL-2), and response to exogenous recombinant IL-2 (rIL-2). Protein-malnourished guinea pigs responded only weakly to PPD skin tests, and their blood and lymph node lymphocytes exhibited impaired proliferation when cultured with PPD in vitro. IL-2 levels were consistently low in cultures of stimulated blood and spleen lymphocytes from protein-deprived animals. BCG vaccination of nutritionally normal guinea pigs, on the other hand, induced significantly more IL-2 production by PPD- and concanavalin A-stimulated lymphocytes. The addition of exogenous mouse rIL-2 (40 and 80 U/ml) in vitro to PPD-stimulated blood and lymph node cells from nonvaccinated, protein-deprived guinea pigs resulted in no improvement of the proliferative response. Previous vaccination of malnourished guinea pigs did not consistently enhance the response of PPD-stimulated lymphocytes to added rIL-2. Dietary protein deficiency and BCG vaccination appear to modulate antigen-driven cellular immunity in animals with tuberculosis by altering the production of, and the response to, IL-2 by PPD-stimulated lymphocytes.


McMurray, David N., C. L. Mintzer, R. A. Bartow, and R. L. Parr. "Dietary protein deficiency and Mycobacterium bovis BCG affect interleukin-2 activity in experimental pulmonary tuberculosis." Infection and immunity 57, no. 9 (1989): 2606-2611.



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