Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination induces variable protection against pulmonary tuberculosis (TB), and a more effective TB vaccine is needed. The potential for BCG to provide protection against heterologous infections, by induction of innate immune memory, is increasingly recognised. These non-specific responses may substantially benefit public health, but are also variable. In this issue of the JCI, Koeken and de Bree et al. report that BCG reduces circulating inflammatory markers in males but not in females, whilst de Bree and Mouritis et al. describe how diurnal rhythms affect the degree of BCG-induced innate memory. These studies further delineate factors that influence the magnitude of responses to BCG and may be crucial to harnessing its potential benefits.
Sarah Prentice, Hazel M. Dockrell