Polyfunctional T Cells in Human Tuberculosis

Eur J Immunol. 2010 Aug;40(8):2139-42. doi: 10.1002/eji.201040731.


Studies of chronic viral infections have highlighted the phenotypic and functional heterogeneity of antigen-specific T cells and suggested that polyfunctional T cells that secrete multiple cytokines and are able to proliferate on encounter with antigen are more likely than single cytokine secretors to represent correlates of protective immunity. These findings have prompted the evaluation of such T-cell responses in chronic bacterial infections, such as tuberculosis (TB). A number of studies in humans suggested that polyfunctional T cells may indeed be involved in mediating protection in TB; however, studies that question these findings are also emerging, including a study published in this issue of the European Journal of Immunology. These differing findings highlight the difficulties of studying human immunity to TB and the need for polyfunctional T cells to be evaluated in longitudinal studies as opposed to case-control analyses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Comment

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Bacterial / immunology
  • Antigens, Bacterial / metabolism*
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism*
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / microbiology
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / pathology
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / immunology*
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / pathogenicity
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / immunology*


  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Cytokines