Susanne Nielsen

Bacillus Calmette-Guérin vaccination, thymic size, and thymic output in healthy newborns

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review

DOI

  • Nina Marie Birk, Department of Pediatrics, Copenhagen University Hospital, Hvidovre, Kettegaard Allé, Hvidovre, Denmark.
  • ,
  • Thomas Nørrelykke Nissen, Department of Pediatrics, Copenhagen University Hospital, Hvidovre, Kettegaard Allé, Hvidovre, Denmark.
  • ,
  • Vera Zingmark, Department of Pediatrics, Copenhagen University Hospital, Hvidovre, Kettegaard Allé, Hvidovre, Denmark.
  • ,
  • Jesper Kjærgaard, The Department of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Juliane Marie Centret, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen University Hospital, Denmark.
  • ,
  • Lisbeth Marianne Thøstesen
  • Poul-Erik Kofoed, Department of Pediatrics, Kolding Hospital, Kolding, Denmark
  • ,
  • Lone Graff Stensballe, The Department of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Juliane Marie Centret, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen University Hospital, Denmark.
  • ,
  • Andreas Andersen, Statens Serum Institut
  • ,
  • Susanne Dam Nielsen
  • Christine Stabell Benn, Statens Serum Institut
  • ,
  • Ole Pryds, Department of Pediatrics, Copenhagen University Hospital, Hvidovre, Kettegaard Allé, Hvidovre, Denmark.
  • ,
  • Dorthe Lisbeth Jeppesen, Department of Pediatrics, Copenhagen University Hospital, Hvidovre, Kettegaard Allé, Hvidovre, Denmark.

BACKGROUND: The Bacillus Calmette-Guérin vaccine (BCG) has been associated with beneficial nonspecific effects on infant health. We aimed to examine the effect of BCG at birth on thymic size and the associations between thymic output, circulating lymphocytes, risk of infection, and thymic size.

METHODS: In infants randomized to BCG or no BCG, thymic index (TI), and thymic/weight index (TWI) were measured by ultrasound at birth and at the age of 3 mo. T cell subpopulations including CD4+ T cells, CD8+ T cells, and recent thymic emigrants (RTEs) were assessed by flow cytometry. Infections up to age 3 mo were parent-reported.

RESULTS: BCG vaccination did not affect thymic size at age 3 mo, measured as TI. At birth, the number of lymphocytes, CD4+ T cells, CD8+ T cells, and RTEs were positively associated with TI and TWI. Furthermore, a reduced risk of infections up to age 3 mo was associated with a large thymic size at birth.

CONCLUSION: We found no effect of BCG vaccination on thymic size. The positive association between thymic output, lymphocytes, reduced risk of infections, and TI/TWI suggests that assessment of TI/TWI by ultrasound may be a predictor of the immunological capacity in the newborn.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPediatric Research
Volume81
Issue6
Pages (from-to)873-880
Number of pages8
ISSN0031-3998
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017
Externally publishedYes

    Research areas

  • B-Lymphocyte Subsets, BCG Vaccine/administration & dosage, Female, Flow Cytometry, Humans, Infant, Newborn, Male, T-Lymphocyte Subsets, Thymus Gland/anatomy & histology

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