Defective gamma-interferon production in peripheral blood leukocytes of patients with acute tuberculosis

J Clin Immunol. 1986 Mar;6(2):146-51. doi: 10.1007/BF00918747.


Production of interferon (IFN)-gamma by peripheral blood leukocytes (PBL) was examined in cultures of unseparated fresh whole blood exposed to phytohemagglutinin (PHA), concanavalin A (Con A), or pokeweed mitogen (PWM). The yield of IFN-gamma was measured by a newly developed immunoradiometric assay. Nine of 14 patients with acute pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) showed a depressed IFN-gamma response to Con A and/or PWM. Only four of these TB patients also showed a depressed IFN-gamma response to PHA. Stimulation of the patients' PBL cultures with PHA in the presence of exogenous interleukin 2 (IL 2) produced normal IFN-gamma yields in all but the most severely depressed patients. PBL cultures of TB patients with defective IFN-gamma production in response to mitogenic lectins also produced less IFN-gamma after stimulation with tuberculin PPD. Although some patients showed a moderate degree of lymphopenia, their OKT4/T8 lymphocyte ratios were mostly normal or close to normal, with the notable exception of one TB patient who has been diagnosed to have the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Concanavalin A / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Interferon-gamma / blood*
  • Interleukin-2 / immunology
  • Leukocytes / immunology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phytohemagglutinins / pharmacology
  • Pokeweed Mitogens / pharmacology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / immunology*


  • Interleukin-2
  • Phytohemagglutinins
  • Pokeweed Mitogens
  • Concanavalin A
  • Interferon-gamma