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Bovine tuberculosis (bTB) is increasing in incidence in the UK. Effective control strategies could involve vaccination; BCG, either alone or in prime-boost strategies, remains the most effective vaccine against bovine tuberculosis. However, BCG vaccination of cattle would require development of diagnostic tests able to accurately discriminate Mycobacterium bovis-infected from BCG-vaccinated animals. Herein, we demonstrate that the detection of secreted IFN-gamma following short term culture (4h) of whole blood with purified protein derived from M. bovis (PPD-B) allows such discrimination. This reflects, in part, the differential kinetics of IFN-gamma secretion in infected compared to vaccinated cattle. This is the first study to demonstrate that accurate, rapid distinction of BCG-vaccinated from M. bovis-infected cattle can be achieved in a short time period without the need for production of M. bovis-specific antigens, complex antigen mixtures or extensive laboratory procedures. We were also able to detect PPD-specific IFN-gamma release during short term culture of blood from a number of humans with active TB indicating that this test may have wider application and is potentially useful for the rapid diagnosis of disease in humans.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





5470 - 5476


Animals, Antigens, Bacterial, BCG Vaccine, CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes, Cattle, Cytokines, Flow Cytometry, Humans, Interferon-gamma, Kinetics, Mycobacterium bovis, Tuberculosis, Bovine, Tuberculosis, Pulmonary, Vaccination