The aqueous fraction of Triton X-100-soluble proteins (TSP-Aq) of Mycobacterium tuberculosis cell wall was reported to stimulate T-cell responses in peripheral blood monocytes from tuberculosis (TB) patients and to induce Th1 cytokines, suggesting presence of protective antigens. In this study, therefore, we examined the protective efficacy of TSP-Aq against M. tuberculosis infection in a mouse model. C57BL/6 mice were immunized with TSP-Aq or culture filtrate proteins (CFP) mixed with incomplete Freund's adjuvant or with BCG followed by i.v. challenge with M. tuberculosis H37Rv. TSP-Aq induced strong interferon-γ production by spleen cells, and mice immunized with TSP-Aq antigens gave a significant reduction in M. tuberculosis CFU counts by 1.17-1.32 log10 CFU in the lungs and 1.31-2.08 log10 CFU in the spleen from 6 to 28 weeks. The degree of protection offered by TSP-Aq was comparable to that of CFP and of the BCG vaccine. The results demonstrated that the TSP-Aq antigens confer a significant level of protection against the growth of the organism in the lungs and spleen in a mouse model of TB and indicate that TSP contains major protective antigens of M. tuberculosis.
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