Innate Immune Responses after Airway Epithelial Stimulation with Mycobacterium bovis Bacille-Calmette Guérin
Mycobacterium bovis bacilli Calmette-Guerin (BCG) is used as a benchmark to compare the immunogenicity of new vaccines against tuberculosis. This live vaccine is administered intradermal, but several new studies show that changing the route to mucosal immunisation represents an improved strategy. We analysed the immunomodulatory functions of BCG on human neutrophils and primary airway epithelial cells (AECs), as the early events of mucosal immune activation are unclear. Neutrophils and the primary epithelial cells were found to express the IL-17A receptor subunit IL-17RA, while the expression of IL-17RE was only observed on epithelial cells. BCG stimulation specifically reduced neutrophil IL-17RA and epithelial IL-17RE expression. BCG induced neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs), but did not have an effect on apoptosis as measured by transcription factor forkhead box O3 (FOXO3). BCG stimulation of AECs induced CXCL8 secretion and neutrophil endothelial passage towards infected epithelia. Infected epithelial cells and neutrophils were not found to be a source of IL-17 cytokines or the interstitial collagenase MMP-1. However, the addition of IFNγ or IL-17A to BCG stimulated primary epithelial cells increased epithelial IL-6 secretion, while the presence of IFNγ reduced neutrophil recruitment. Using our model of mucosal infection we revealed that BCG induces selective mucosal innate immune responses that could lead to induction of vaccine-mediated protection of the lung.