UMMS Affiliation

Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology

Publication Date


Document Type



Immunity | Immunoprophylaxis and Therapy


The Bacille Calmette Guerin (BCG) vaccine is the only routine vaccination at birth that effectively induces neonatal T-helper 1 (Th1)-polarized immune responses. The primary cytokine that drives CD4+ T-cell Th1 differentiation is interleukin (IL)-12 p70, a heterodimeric cytokine composed of the IL-12 p35 and IL-12 p40 subunits. We therefore examined the mechanisms involved in BCG vaccine stimulation of IL-12 p35 and p40 production from human umbilical cord (neonatal) cells. We found that BCG bacilli did not upregulate IL-12 p35 mRNA production, but upregulated IL-12 p40 mRNA production in a Toll-like receptor (TLR)2-dependent manner, in human neonatal monocyte-derived dendritic cells (mdDCs). The combination of TLR2 signaling, Type I interferon (IFN), and Type II IFN induced maximal levels of IL-12 p35 and p40 mRNA production in human neonatal mdDCs. The cell-free supernatants of reconstituted BCG vaccine vials contained extracellular mycobacterial (BCG) DNA which could induce IFN-alpha (Type I IFN) production in human neonatal plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs). BCG bacilli also stimulated human neonatal CD16lo natural killer (NK) cells to produce IFN-gamma (Type II IFN) in a TLR2-dependent manner. We have therefore proposed a model where BCG vaccine could stimulate the combination of neonatal conventional DCs (cDCs), pDCs, and CD16lo NK cells to produce optimal neonatal IL-12 p35 and p40 (IL-12 p70) production and subsequent CD4+ T-cell Th1 polarization. An adjuvant that emulates the mechanism by which the BCG vaccine stimulates neonatal IL-12 p35 and p40 production could improve vaccine strategies at birth for protection against intracellular pathogens and toxins.

DOI of Published Version



PLoS One. 2016 Aug 29;11(8):e0162148. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0162148. eCollection 2016. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

PloS one

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



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