Interferon-gamma production by human T cells and natural killer cells in vitro in response to antigens from the two intracellular pathogens Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Leishmania major

Scand J Immunol. 1997 Nov;46(5):495-9. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-3083.1997.d01-154.x.


Acquired resistance to both mycobacteria and Leishmania is primarily mediated by interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma), which triggers mechanisms leading to the death of the microorganism in macrophages. In this study, cell activation and IFN-gamma production was investigated in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from individuals previously sensitized to tuberculin and without known exposure to Leishmania parasites. Immune staining for intracellular IFN-gamma and surface markers allowed flow cytometric identification of the cellular sources of IFN-gamma in cell cultures incubated with purified protein derivative of tuberculin (PPD) and Leishmania antigens. It was found that IFN-gamma was produced in response to both PPD and Leishmania stimulant by T cells in the cultures. Activation of IFN-gamma producing natural killer (NK) cells was demonstrated only in some cultures, and only with concomitant T cell activation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Antigens, Bacterial / immunology*
  • Antigens, Protozoan / immunology*
  • BCG Vaccine / immunology
  • CD3 Complex / analysis
  • CD56 Antigen / analysis
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Humans
  • Immunization
  • Interferon-gamma / biosynthesis*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / metabolism
  • Leishmania major / immunology*
  • Lymphocyte Activation*
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Th1 Cells / immunology
  • Th1 Cells / metabolism
  • Tuberculin / immunology*


  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Antigens, Protozoan
  • BCG Vaccine
  • CD3 Complex
  • CD56 Antigen
  • Tuberculin
  • Interferon-gamma