Bovine Tuberculosis in the Developing world

The project is a part of a consortium funded by the Wellcome Trust to study Bovine Tuberculosis in the Developing World. ILRI’s part involves determining cattle breed differences in immune response following vaccination with BCG, and following infection with Mycobacterium bovis. Our work will be divided into two parts; the BCG vaccination experiments will be carried out on ILRI facilities, while we shall do the experiments on infection with Mycobacterium bovis in collaboration with other partners.

Previous studies and epidemiological surveys have indicated a difference in susceptibility to, and disease severity in bovine tuberculosis in zebu and Holstein cattle (Ameni et al., 2006). For animals raised under the same husbandry conditions, this may be attributed to differences in immune responses to infection with Mycobacterium bovis. As a way to gather baseline data the proposed study aims to identify these immune response differences to BCG vaccination, and determine the genetic determinants that may dictate resistance/susceptibility and protective immune reactions.


a) Determine cellular immune responses in naïve cattle infected with BCG or M.bovis
b) Ascertain cattle breed differences in immune response in (a)
c) Establish the cellular and molecular basis of the responses and the difference in (b) above
d) Determine by genomic analysis the genes of importance for susceptibility and resistance in (c)  above

The Project is coordinated by Imperial College.  VLA are providing training, reagents and intellectual input. OVI are providing facilities for infection of two breeds of cattle with virulent M.bovis at BSL 3 and comparative analysis of immune responses and pathogology.

Expected outputs

  1. Establish a basis for selecting for TB resistance and improving on vaccine components that confer protective immunity
  2. Training MSc and PhD students
  3. Establish ILRI as centre for excellence in biotechnology of mycobacterial typing technologies (VNTR, spoligotyping),
  4. Build on existing links with Trinity College, Dublin to promote collaborative interactions in use of host and pathogen microarrays to study mycobacterial infection.
  5. By strengthening south-south links with AHRI, and north-south links with Trinity College, VLA and Imperial College, the project will establish ILRI as a regional centre for TB research