Mycobacterium vaccae

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Mycobacterium vaccae
Scientific classification
M. vaccae
Binomial name
Mycobacterium vaccae

Mycobacterium vaccae is a nonpathogenic[1] species of the Mycobacteriaceae family of bacteria that lives naturally in soil. Its name originates from the Latin word, vacca (cow), since it was first cultured from cow dung in Austria.[2] Research areas being pursued with regard to killed Mycobacterium vaccae vaccine include immunotherapy for allergic asthma, cancer, depression[3], leprosy,[4] psoriasis, dermatitis, eczema and tuberculosis.[4]

A research group at Henry Wellcome Laboratories for Integrative Neuroscience and Endocrinology, University of Bristol, Bristol, England, UK has shown that Mycobacterium vaccae stimulated a newly discovered group of neurons, increased levels of serotonin and decreased levels of anxiety in mice.[1] Other researchers fed live Mycobacterium vaccae to mice, then measured their ability to navigate a maze compared to control mice not fed the bacteria. "Mice that were fed live M. vaccae navigated the maze twice as fast and with less demonstrated anxiety behaviors as control mice", according to Dorothy Matthews, who conducted the research with Susan Jenks at the Sage Colleges, Troy, New York, USA.[5]

Mycobacterium vaccae is in the same genus as Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium which causes tuberculosis. Numerous trials have indicated that exposure to oral and injectable products derived from M. vaccae bacteria can have positive effects in treating tuberculosis. Although a 2002 review of selected clinical trials failed to find any consistent benefit of certain dosage regimens of injectable Mycobacterium products in people with tuberculosis,[6] a more recent meta-analysis of 54 clinical studies of M. vaccae products for tuberculosis showed treatment resulted in improved sputum conversion and radiological (X-ray) assessment.[7]

Medical researchers at Kharkiv National Medical University, Kharkiv, Ukraine have reported two clinical trials with oral formulations of Immunitor Inc's killed Mycobacterium vaccae oral vaccine and An Hui Longcom's killed Mycobacterium vaccae oral vaccine in treating tuberculosis, including drug resistant TB (MDR-TB). The research team reported greater success with the Immunitor vaccine than the An Hui Longcom vaccine.[8][9]

A team of researchers at the Genetics and Microbiology Department of the Autonomous University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain discovered that Mycobacterium vaccae changes from its "smooth" type to its "rough" type (referring to how colonies of this organism appear under a microscope) at thirty degrees Celsius. They discovered that the "smooth" type of Mycobacterium vaccae has a substance on the outside of its cell wall which interferes with the production of Th-1 cytokines, responsible for some kinds of T-helper cell immune response. The team also found that the spleen cells of mice inoculated with "rough" Mycobacterium vaccae produced more Th-1 cytokines than those inoculated with "smooth" Mycobacterium vaccae.

The researchers say this may explain why different vaccines made from Mycobacterium vaccae vary in their effectiveness in increasing immune response to other organisms during clinical trials.[10]


The first described strain of M. vaccae was isolated from cow dung.
  1. ^ a b Lowry, C.A.; Hollis, J.H.; De Vries, A.; Pan, B.; Brunet, L.R.; Hunt, J.R.F.; Paton, J.F.R.; Van Kampen, E.; et al. (2007). "Identification of an immune-responsive mesolimbocortical serotonergic system: Potential role in regulation of emotional behavior". Neuroscience. 146 (2): 756–72. doi:10.1016/j.neuroscience.2007.01.067. PMC 1868963. PMID 17367941.
  2. ^ "Extremely drug resistant tuberculosis – is there hope for a cure?" (PDF). TB Alert – the UK's National Tuberculosis Charity. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-10-19. Retrieved 2007-04-02.
  3. ^ Olmec, Agro-Tech. "Therapeutic Gardening For Depression".
  4. ^ a b US patent 4724144, Rook, Graham A. W. & Stanford, John L., "Immuno-therapeutic composition of killed cells from mycobacterium vaccae", issued February 9, 1988 
  5. ^ Matthews, Dorothy. ""Can Bacteria Make You Smarter?"".AAAS EurekAlert reproduction of an American Society for Microbiology scientific session presentation by Dorothy Matthews and Susan Jenks on their work showing injections of live mycobacterium vaccae stmulated growth of neurons, reduced anxiety behavior in mice, and reduced time for them to navigate mazes by half.
  6. ^ De Bruyn, Guy; Garner, Paul (2003). De Bruyn, Guy (ed.). "Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews". doi:10.1002/14651858.CD001166. |chapter= ignored (help)
  7. ^ : Yang X-Y, Chen Q-F, Li Y-P, Wu S-M (2011) Mycobacterium vaccae as Adjuvant Therapy to Anti-Tuberculosis Chemotherapy in Never-Treated Tuberculosis Patients: A Meta-Analysis. PLoS ONE 6(9): e23826. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0023826
  8. ^ Butov, DA; Efremenko YV; Prihoda ND; Zaitzeva SI; Yurchenko LV; Sokolenko NI; Butova TS; Stepanenko AL; Kutsyna GA; Jirathitikal V; Bourinbaiar AS. (Oct 2013). "Randomized, placebo-controlled Phase II trial of heat-killed Mycobacterium vaccae (Immodulon batch) formulated as an oral pill (V7)". Immunotherapy. 5 (10): 1047–54. doi:10.2217/imt.13.110. PMID 24088075.
  9. ^ Efremenko, YV; Butov DA; Prihoda ND; Zaitzeva SI; Yurchenko LV; Sokolenko NI; Butova TS; Stepanenko AL; Kutsyna GA; Jirathitikal V; Bourinbaiar AS (June 2013). "Randomized, placebo-controlled Phase II trial of heat-killed Mycobacterium vaccae (Longcom batch) formulated as an oral pill (V7)". Hum Vaccin Immunother. 9 (9): 1852–6. doi:10.4161/hv.25280. PMC 3906348. PMID 23782489.
  10. ^ Rodríguez-Güell, Elisabeth; Agustí, Gemma; Corominas, Mercè; Cardona, Pere-Joan; Casals, Isidre; Parella, Teodor; Sempere, Marco-Antonio; Luquin, Marina; Julián, Esther (2006). "The production of a new extracellular putative long-chain saturated polyester by smooth variants of Mycobacterium vaccae interferes with Th1-cytokine production". Antonie van Leeuwenhoek. 90 (1): 93–108. doi:10.1007/s10482-006-9062-1. PMID 16652204.

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