T cells and adaptive immunity to Mycobacterium tuberculosis in humans

Immunol Rev. 2015 Mar;264(1):74-87. doi: 10.1111/imr.12274.


The adaptive immune response mediated by T cells is critical for control of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tuberculosis) infection in humans. However, the M. tuberculosis antigens and host T-cell responses that are required for an effective adaptive immune response to M. tuberculosis infection are yet to be defined. Here, we review recent findings on CD4(+) and CD8(+) T-cell responses to M. tuberculosis infection and examine the roles of distinct M. tuberculosis-specific T-cell subsets in control of de novo and latent M. tuberculosis infection, and in the evolution of T-cell immunity to M. tuberculosis in response to tuberculosis treatment. In addition, we discuss recent studies that elucidate aspects of M. tuberculosis-specific adaptive immunity during human immunodeficiency virus co-infection and summarize recent findings from vaccine trials that provide insight into effective adaptive immune responses to M. tuberculosis infection.

Keywords: CD4+; CD8+; HIV co-infection; IL-10-producing immunosuppressive and Treg cells; TB; Th1 and Th17 cells.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity*
  • BCG Vaccine / immunology
  • Coinfection
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • HIV Infections / immunology
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunomodulation
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / metabolism
  • Tuberculosis / immunology*
  • Tuberculosis / metabolism
  • Tuberculosis / microbiology
  • Tuberculosis / prevention & control


  • BCG Vaccine
  • Cytokines