A new study conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has found that BCG vaccination induces enhanced innate and adaptive immunity in elderly individuals which may prove beneficial against the COVID virus.
The preprint of the ongoing study being conducted by the ICMR-National Institute for Research in Tuberculosis (ICMR-NIRT) has been published in medRxiv.
BCG vaccination is known to induce innate immune memory, which confers protection against heterologous infections. However, the effect of BCG vaccination on the conventional innate and adaptive immune cells subsets is not well characterised.
In the ongoing study, the researchers investigated the impact of BCG vaccination on the frequencies of T cell, B cell, monocyte and dendritic cell subsets as well as total antibody levels in a group of healthy elderly individuals (age 60-80 years) at one month post vaccination as part of the clinical study to examine the effect of BCG on COVID-19.
The study results demonstrated that BCG vaccination induced enhanced frequencies of central and effector memory CD4+ T cells and diminished frequencies of naive, transitional memory, stem cell memory CD4+ T cells and regulatory T cells. In addition, BCG vaccination induced enhanced frequencies of central, effector and terminal effector memory CD8+ T cells and diminished frequencies of naive, transitional memory and stem cell memory CD8+T cells.
BCG vaccination also induced enhanced frequencies of immature, classical and activated memory B cells and plasma cells and diminished frequencies of naive and atypical memory B cells.
While BCG vaccination did not induce significant alterations in monocytes subsets, it induced increased frequencies of myeloid and plasmacytoid DCs. Finally, BCG vaccination resulted in elevated levels of all antibody isotypes, the study finds.
The researchers concluded that BCG vaccination was associated with enhanced innate and adaptive memory cell subsets, as well as total antibody levels in elderly individuals, suggesting its potential utility in SARS-Cov2 infection by enhancing heterologous immunity.
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