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Research Article

Antibodies against BCG antigen 60 in mycobacterial infection.

Br Med J 1977; 2 doi: (Published 13 August 1977) Cite this as: Br Med J 1977;2:430
  1. M Harboe,
  2. O Closs,
  3. B Bjorvatn,
  4. G Bjune


    A sensitive specific radioimmunoassay was developed to measure antibodies against BCG antigen 60, a prominent antigenic component of BCG bacilli which cross-reacts with similar components in many mycobacterial species including Mycobacterium leprae and M tuberculosis. A lepromatous serum pool had anti-BCG-60 activity with a titre of 10(5) and the tuberculoid pool a titre of 10(4). Testing of individual sera showed striking variations within groups of patients with lepromatous and tuberculoid leprosy. In five of the 20 tuberculoid leprosy sera the anti-BCG-60 activity was above the median for the lepromatous group. The current view that antibody formation against mycobacterial antigens is very low in tuberculoid leprosy thus no longer appears to be tenable. Sera from eight patients with active pulmonary tuberculosis also showed a striking variation in anti-BCG-60 content, and the median value of this group was even higher than in those with lepromatous leprosy.