Development of a skin test for bovine tuberculosis for differentiating infected from vaccinated animals

Adam O. Whelan, Derek Clifford, Bhagwati Upadhyay, Eleanor L. Breadon, James McNair, Glyn R. Hewinson, Martin H. Vordermeier

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81 Citations (SciVal)


The tuberculin skin test has been used for the diagnosis of bovine and human tuberculosis (TB) for over a hundred years. However, the specificity of the test is compromised by vaccination with the Mycobacterium bovis-derived vaccine strain bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG). Since current promising vaccines against bovine TB are based on heterologous prime-boost combinations that include BCG, there is a need for diagnostic tests for differentiating infected from vaccinated animals (DIVA). The application of antigens such as ESAT-6 and CFP-10 for DIVA has so far been realized largely through their application in the blood-based gamma interferon release assay. In the current study, we have reassessed the potential of such antigens as skin test reagents for DIVA in cattle. A cocktail of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex recombinant protein antigens ESAT-6, CFP-10, MPB70, and MPB83 elicited delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) skin test responses in 78% of naturally infected tuberculin-positive cattle. Importantly, this cocktail induced no skin responses in BCG-vaccinated cattle despite them being sensitized for strong tuberculin responses. Further optimization of skin test antigen combinations identified that the inclusion of Rv3615c (Mb3645c) enhanced skin test sensitivity in naturally infected cattle without compromising specificity. In addition, we demonstrate for the first time the utility of synthetic peptides as promising skin test antigens for bovine TB for DIVA. Our data provide a promising basis for the future development of skin tests for DIVA with practical relevance for TB diagnosis in both veterinary and clinical settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3176-3181
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Microbiology
Issue number9
Early online date30 Aug 2010
Publication statusPublished - 01 Sept 2010


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