Enhanced responses to Mycobacterium tuberculosis antigens by human alveolar lymphocytes during active pulmonary tuberculosis

J Infect Dis. 1998 Nov;178(5):1434-45. doi: 10.1086/314454.


Responses to mycobacterial and nonmycobacterial antigens were examined in bronchoalveolar cells (BAC) and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from patients with active pulmonary tuberculosis (n=16) and healthy subjects (n=23). DNA synthesis in BAC (but not PBMC) from tuberculosis patients was significantly increased in response to the mycobacterial antigens purified protein derivative (PPD), antigen 85, and mannose-capped lipoarabinomannan but not to nonmycobacterial antigens. The response to PPD was also increased in enriched alveolar lymphocytes from tuberculosis patients (P<.05). The frequency of interferon-gamma but not interleukin-4- or -10-producing cells by ELISAspot was increased in PPD-stimulated BAC from patients with tuberculosis (P<.05). Accessory function of alveolar macrophages for T lymphocyte responses was similar and suppressive activity was variably decreased in tuberculosis patients. Thus, there is compartmentalization of mycobacterial antigen-specific lymphocytes to the lungs during active tuberculosis that on challenge produce a Th1-type cytokine host response.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antigens, Bacterial / immunology*
  • Cell Compartmentation
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Humans
  • Lipopolysaccharides / immunology
  • Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Macrophages, Alveolar / immunology
  • Middle Aged
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / immunology*
  • Pulmonary Alveoli / cytology
  • Pulmonary Alveoli / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Th1 Cells / immunology
  • Th1 Cells / metabolism
  • Tuberculin / immunology
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / immunology*


  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Tuberculin
  • lipoarabinomannan