Undernutrition is associated with perturbations in T cell-, B cell-, monocyte- and dendritic cell- subsets in latent Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection

PLoS One. 2019 Dec 10;14(12):e0225611. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0225611. eCollection 2019.


Undernutrition, as described by low body mass index (BMI), is a foremost risk factor for the progression of active Tuberculosis (TB). Undernutrition is also known to impact the baseline frequencies of innate and adaptive immune cells in animal models. To verify whether undernutrition has any influence on the baseline frequencies of immune cells in latent Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection (LTBI), we examined the frequencies of T cell-, B cell, monocyte- and dendritic cell (DC)- subsets in individuals with LTBI and low BMI (LBMI) and contrasted them with LTBI and normal BMI (NBMI) groups. LBMI was characterized by decreased frequencies and absolute cell counts of T cells, B cells and NK cells in comparison with NBMI. LBMI individuals demonstrated significantly enhanced frequencies of naïve and effector CD4+ and CD8+ T cells and significantly decreased frequencies of central memory, effector memory CD4+ and CD8+ T cells and regulatory T cells. Among B cell subsets, LBMI individuals demonstrated significantly diminished frequencies of naïve, immature, classical memory, activated memory, atypical memory and plasma cells. In addition, LBMI individuals showed significantly decreased frequencies of classical monocytes, myeloid DCs and plasmacytoid DCs and significantly increased frequencies of intermediate and non-classical monocytes and myeloid derived suppressor cells. BMI exhibited a positive correlation with B cell and NK cell counts. Our data, therefore, demonstrates that coexistent undernutrition in LTBI is characterized by the occurrence of a significant modulation in the frequency of innate and adaptive immune cell subsets.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Body Mass Index
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Disease Progression
  • Disease Susceptibility / epidemiology
  • Disease Susceptibility / immunology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular*
  • Immunity, Innate*
  • India / epidemiology
  • Latent Tuberculosis / blood
  • Latent Tuberculosis / immunology*
  • Latent Tuberculosis / microbiology
  • Male
  • Malnutrition / blood
  • Malnutrition / epidemiology
  • Malnutrition / immunology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Monocytes / immunology
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / immunology
  • Risk Factors
  • Rural Population / statistics & numerical data
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / epidemiology*
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / immunology
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / microbiology
  • Young Adult

Grant support

This study was supported by the Division of Intramural Research, NIAID, NIH to SB. The funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.