Objectives: This study aimed to assess how Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) coinfection alters the impact of interleukin-10 in chronic HIV infection.
Design: We assessed plasma cytokine levels (interleukin-10, interferon-γ, tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukin-2, interleukin-6 and interleukin-13) in 82 individuals presenting with HIV monoinfection, HIV-LTBI (latent MTB infection) coinfection or HIV-TB (active tuberculosis) coinfection. We also assessed the influence of MTB on the functional impact of interleukin-10 receptor alpha (interleukin-10Rα) blockade on HIV and MTB-specific CD4(+) T cells.
Methods: Plasma cytokine levels were measured by high sensitivity Luminex. We used an ex-vivo interleukin-10Rα blockade assay to assess if functional enhancement of HIV and MTB-specific CD4(+) T cells was possible following a 48-h stimulation with HIV gag or pooled ESAT-6 (6 kDa early secretory antigenic target) and CFP-10 (10-kDa culture filtrate protein) peptides. Cell supernatant was collected 48 h after stimulation and the cytokine profile was measured by Luminex.
Results: Plasma interleukin-10 levels were elevated in HIV-TB as compared with HIV monoinfection (P < 0.05) and HIV-LTBI (P < 0.05). Plasma interleukin-10 levels correlated to HIV viral load in HIV monoinfection (P = 0.016) and HIV-LTBI (P = 0.042), but not HIV-TB. Ex-vivo blockade of interleukin-10Rα significantly enhanced MTB and HIV-specific CD4(+) T-cell function in HIV-LTBI individuals but not in HIV-TB individuals.
Conclusion: Tuberculosis disrupts the correlation between interleukin-10 and markers of HIV disease progression. In addition, HIV-TB is associated with a more inflammatory cytokine milieu compared with HIV monoinfection. Interestingly, interleukin-10Rα blockade can enhance both HIV and MTB-specific T-cell function in HIV-LTBI, but not in HIV-TB coinfection.