Das J, Verma D, Gustafsson M, Lerm M
Epigenetics 14 (6) 589-601 [2019-06-00; online 2019-04-22]
The protection against tuberculosis induced by the Bacille Calmette Guérin (BCG) vaccine is unpredictable. In our previous study, altered DNA methylation pattern in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) in response to BCG was observed in a subgroup of individuals, whose macrophages killed mycobacteria effectively ('responders'). These macrophages also showed production of Interleukin-1β (IL-1β) in response to mycobacterial stimuli before vaccination. Here, we hypothesized that the propensity to respond to the BCG vaccine is reflected in the DNA methylome. We mapped the differentially methylated genes (DMGs) in PBMCs isolated from responders/non-responders at the time point before vaccination aiming to identify possible predictors of BCG responsiveness. We identified 43 DMGs and subsequent bioinformatic analyses showed that these were enriched for actin-modulating pathways, predicting differences in phagocytosis. This could be validated by experiments showing that phagocytosis of mycobacteria, which is an event preceding mycobacteria-induced IL-1β production, was strongly correlated with the DMG pattern.