Prime-boost immunization strategies are required to control the global tuberculosis (TB) pandemic, which claims approximately 3 lives every minute. Here, we have generated an immunogenic complex against Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb), consisting of promiscuous T cell epitopes (M. tb peptides) and TLR ligands assembled in liposomes. Interestingly, this complex (peptide-TLR agonist-liposomes; PTL) induced significant activation of CD4+ T cells and IFN-γ production in the PBMCs derived from PPD+ healthy individuals as compared with PPD- controls. Furthermore, intranasal delivery of PTL significantly reduced the bacterial burden in the infected mice by inducing M.tb-specific polyfunctional (IFN-γ+IL-17+TNF-α+IL-2+) immune responses and long-lasting central memory responses, thereby reducing the risk of TB recurrence in DOTS-treated infected animals. The transcriptome analysis of peptide-stimulated immune cells unveiled the molecular basis of enhanced protection. Furthermore, PTL immunization significantly boosted the Bacillus Calmette-Guerin-primed (BCG-primed) immune responses against TB. The greatly enhanced efficacy of the BCG-PTL vaccine model in controlling pulmonary TB projects PTL as an adjunct vaccine against TB.
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