Heterologous organisms (L. monocytogenes and S. typhimurium) were used to study the rate of development, magnitude, and persistence of the antimicrobial resistance engendered in mice by vaccination with BCG. These same methods were used to investigate the influence of prior vaccination on the host response to reinfection.
The rate of onset and magnitude of the resistance produced by BCG varied with the vaccinating dose. Increased resistance was detected within 48 hr of injecting large numbers of BCG (approximately 108 viable units), but concurrent treatment with isoniazid interrupted its further development. An equal number of heat-killed organisms failed to influence host resistance significantly. The development of tuberculin sensitivity was also dependent upon the continued survival of the immunizing population of BCG.
When vaccinated mice were reinfected with BCG, host resistance in spleen and liver was rapidly augmented to the accompaniment of striking changes in the morphology and microbicidal activity of the peritoneal macrophages. These changes occurred most rapidly in mice with a high level of delayed hypersensitivity at the time of reinfection.