PloS one

Characterization of effector and memory T cell subsets in the immune response to bovine tuberculosis in cattle.

PMID 25879774


Cultured IFN-γ ELISPOT assays are primarily a measure of central memory T cell (Tcm) responses with humans; however, this important subset of lymphocytes is poorly characterized in cattle. Vaccine-elicited cultured IFN-γ ELISPOT responses correlate with protection against bovine tuberculosis in cattle. However, whether this assay measures cattle Tcm responses or not is uncertain. The objective of the present study was to characterize the relative contribution of Tcm (CCR7+, CD62Lhi, CD45RO+), T effector memory (Tem, defined as: CCR7-, CD62Llow/int, CD45RO+), and T effector cells (CCR7-, CD62L-/low, CD45RO-), in the immune response to Mycobacterium bovis. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from infected cattle were stimulated with a cocktail of M. bovis purified protein derivative, rTb10.4 and rAg85A for 13 days with periodic addition of fresh media and rIL-2. On day 13, cultured PBMC were re-stimulated with medium alone, rESAT-6:CFP10 or PPDb with fresh autologous adherent cells for antigen presentation. Cultured cells (13 days) or fresh PBMCs (ex vivo response) from the same calves were analyzed for IFN-γ production, proliferation, and CD4, CD45RO, CD62L, CD44, and CCR7 expression via flow cytometry after overnight stimulation. In response to mycobacterial antigens, ~75% of CD4+ IFN-γ+ cells in long-term cultures expressed a Tcm phenotype while less than 10% of the ex vivo response consisted of Tcm cells. Upon re-exposure to antigen, long-term cultured cells were highly proliferative, a distinctive characteristic of Tcm, and the predominant phenotype within the long-term cultures switched from Tcm to Tem. These findings suggest that proliferative responses of Tcm cells to some extent occurs simultaneously with reversion to effector phenotypes (mostly Tem). The present study characterizes Tcm cells of cattle and their participation in the response to M. bovis infection.