BCG-Based Vaccines Elicit Antigen-Specific Adaptive and Trained Immunity against SARS-CoV-2 and Andes orthohantavirus

Jorge A. Soto, Fabián E. Díaz, Angello Retamal-Díaz, Nicolás M.S. Gálvez, Felipe Melo-González, Alejandro Piña-Iturbe, Mario A. Ramírez, Karen Bohmwald, Pablo A. González, Susan M. Bueno, Alexis M. Kalergis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Mycobacterium bovis Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) is a live attenuated vaccine mainly administered to newborns and used for over 100 years to prevent the disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tb). This vaccine can induce immune response polarization towards a Th1 profile, which is desired for counteracting M. tb, other mycobacteria, and unrelated intracellular pathogens. The vaccine BCG has been used as a vector to express recombinant proteins and has been shown to protect against several diseases, particularly respiratory viruses. Methods: BCG was used to develop recombinant vaccines expressing either the Nucleoprotein from SARS-CoV-2 or Andes orthohantavirus. Mice were immunized with these vaccines with the aim of evaluating the safety and immunogenicity parameters. Results: Immunization with two doses of 1 × 108 CFU or one dose of 1 × 105 CFU of these BCGs was safe in mice. A statistically significant cellular immune response was induced by both formulations, characterized as the activation of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. Stimulation with unrelated antigens resulted in increased expression of activation markers by T cells and secretion of IL-2 and IFN-γ, while increased secretion of IL-6 was found for both recombinant vaccines; all of these parameters related to a trained immunity profile. The humoral immune response elicited by both vaccines was modest, but further exposure to antigens could increase this response. Conclusions: The BCG vaccine is a promising platform for developing vaccines against different pathogens, inducing a marked antigen-specific immune response.

Original languageEnglish
Article number721
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2022


  • Andes orthohantavirus
  • immune response
  • recombinant BCG
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • trained immunity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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