Altered expression of antigen-specific memory and regulatory T cell subsets differentiate latent and active tuberculosis.


Balaji, P.; Santhi, D.; Raja, A .


Immunology; 2018; 153(3): 325-336.


Summary: Although one-third of the world population is infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis , only 510% of the infected individuals will develop active tuberculosis (TB) disease and the rest will remain infected with no symptoms, known as latent TB infection (LTBI). Identifying biomarkers that differentiate latent and active TB disease enables effective TB control, as early detection, treatment of active TB and preventive treatment of individuals with LTBI are crucial steps involved in TB control. Here, we have evaluated the frequency of antigen-speci?c memory and regulatory T (Treg) cells in 15 healthy household contacts (HHC) and 15 pulmonary TB patients (PTB) to identify biomarkers for differential diagnosis of LTBI and active TB. Among all the antigens tested in the present study, early secretory antigenic target-6 (ESAT-6) -speci?c CD4 + and CD8 + central memory (Tcm) cells showed 93% positivity in HHC and 20% positivity in PTB. The novel test antigens Rv0753c and Rv0009 both displayed 80% and 20% positivity in HHC and PTB, respectively. In contrast to Tcm cells, effector memory T (Tem) cells showed a higher response in PTB than HHC; both ESAT-6 and Rv0009 showed similar positivity of 80% in PTB and 33% in HHC. PTB patients have a higher proportion of circulating antigen-reactive Treg cells (CD4 + CD25 + FoxP3 + ) than LTBI. Rv2204c-speci?c Treg cells showed maximum positivity of 73% in PTB and 20% in HHC. Collectively, our data conclude that ESAT-6-speci?c Tcm cells and Rv2204c-speci?c Treg cells might be useful biomarkers to discriminate LTBI from active TB.


Keywords: Antigen; Biomarker; Latent tuberculosis; Memory T cells; Mycobacterium tuberculosis; Regulatory T cells.


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