Background: Better understanding of the immune response directed against Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) is critical for development of vaccine strategies and diagnosis tests. Previous studies suggested that Mtb enzymes involved in lipid metabolism, are associated with persistence and/or reactivation of dormant bacilli.
Methods: Circulating antibodies secreting cells (ASCs), memory B cells, and antibodies directed against Cut4 (Rv3452) and CFP21 (Rv1984c) antigens were explored in subjects with either active- or latent-tuberculosis (LTB), and in Mtb-uninfected individuals.
Results: Circulating anti-Cut4 ASCs were detected in 11/14 (78.6%) subjects from the active TB group vs. 4/17 (23.5%) from the LTB group (p = 0.001). Anti-CFP21 ASCs were found in 11/14 (78.6%) active TB vs. in 5/17 (29.4%) LTB cases (p = 0.01). Circulating anti-Cut4 and anti-CFP21 ASCs were not detected in 38 Mtb uninfected controls. Memory B cells directed against either Cut4 or CFP21 were identified in 8/11 (72.7%) and in 9/11 (81.8%) subjects with LTB infection, respectively, and in 2/6 Mtb uninfected individuals (33.3%). High level of anti-Cut4 and anti-CFP21 IgG were observed in active TB cases.
Conclusion: Circulating IgG SCs directed against Cut4 or CFP21 were mostly detected in patients presenting an active form of the disease, suggesting that TB reactivation triggers an immune response against these two antigens.