Characterization of CD4 and CD8 T cells producing IFN-γ in human latent and active tuberculosis

Tuberculosis (Edinb). 2010 Nov;90(6):346-53. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2010 Oct 8.


Patients with pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB) frequently have reduced IFN-γ production in response to mycobacterial antigens, compared to individuals with latent Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection (LTBi). However, it is not clear whether this reduced responsiveness is restricted to a particular T cell subset. Herein, PBMCs from 26 PTB patients, 30 household contacts (HHCs) of PTB, and 30 tuberculin positive (TST+) healthy subjects not recently exposed to PTB, were stained with CFSE and stimulated non-specific (PPD) for 120 h, and specific (CFP-10/ESAT-6) and latency (HSpX) mycobacterial antigens for 144 h and the percentage of CD4(+) and CD8(+)IFN-γ(+) T cells responding determined by flow cytometry, in addition to their memory phenotype by the CD45RO and CD27 expression. PTB had decreased frequency of both CD4(+) and CD8(+) precursor cells, as well as decreased number of CD4(+)IFN-γ(+) cells in response to all antigens, whereas CD8(+)IFN-γ(+) cells were decreased in response to PPD and ESAT-6, but not to CFP-10 and HSpX. HHCs exhibited the highest precursor frequencies and IFN-γ responses, irrespective of the antigen employed. The CD4(+)/CD8(+) cell ratios showed that in response to PPD CD4(+) precursor and IFN-γ-producer cells are more frequent than their CD8(+) counterparts, and that PTB have a decreased CD4(+)IFN-γ(+)/CD8(+)IFN-γ(+) ratio in response to PPD, CFP-10, and ESAT-6. CD4(+)IFN-γ(+) and CD8(+)IFN-γ(+) cells exhibited a central memory phenotype (CD45RO(+)CD27(+)), irrespective of the group of subjects and the antigen used for stimulation. In conclusion, PTB patients had a decreased percentage of CD4(+) and CD8(+) precursor cells and CD4(+)IFN-γ(+). HHCs exhibited the highest frequency of CD4(+) and CD8(+) precursors and CD4(+)IFN-γ(+)-producing cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • CD4 Lymphocyte Count
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / immunology*
  • Interferon-gamma / metabolism
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Male
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / immunology*
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / metabolism
  • Tuberculin / metabolism
  • Tuberculin Test
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / immunology*
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / metabolism


  • Tuberculin
  • Interferon-gamma