Dynamic relationship between IFN-gamma and IL-2 profile of Mycobacterium tuberculosis-specific T cells and antigen load.
Millington KA., Innes JA., Hackforth S., Hinks TSC., Deeks JJ., Dosanjh DPS., Guyot-Revol V., Gunatheesan R., Klenerman P., Lalvani A.
Distinct IFN-gamma and IL-2 profiles of Ag-specific CD4(+) T cells have recently been associated with different clinical disease states and Ag loads in viral infections. We assessed the kinetics and functional profile of Mycobacterium tuberculosis Ag-specific T cells secreting IFN-gamma and IL-2 in 23 patients with untreated active tuberculosis when bacterial and Ag loads are high and after curative treatment, when Ag load is reduced. The frequencies of M. tuberculosis Ag-specific IFN-gamma-secreting T cells declined during 28 mo of follow-up with an average percentage decline of 5.8% per year (p = 0.005), while the frequencies of Ag-specific IL-2-secreting T cells increased during treatment (p = 0.02). These contrasting dynamics for the two cytokines led to a progressive convergence of the frequencies of IFN-gamma- and IL-2-secreting cells over 28 mo. Simultaneous measurement of IFN-gamma and IL-2 secretion at the single-cell level revealed a codominance of IFN-gamma-only secreting and IFN-gamma/IL-2 dual secreting CD4(+) T cells in active disease that shifted to dominance of IFN-gamma/IL-2-secreting CD4(+) T cells and newly detectable IL-2-only secreting CD4(+) T cells during and after treatment. These distinct T cell functional signatures before and after treatment suggest a novel immunological marker of mycobacterial load and clinical status in tuberculosis that now requires validation in larger prospective studies.