PloS one

Role of 4-1BB receptor in the control played by CD8(+) T cells on IFN-gamma production by Mycobacterium tuberculosis antigen-specific CD4(+) T Cells.

PMID 20544034


Antigen-specific IFN-gamma producing CD4(+) T cells are the main mediators of protection against Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection both under natural conditions and following vaccination. However these cells are responsible for lung damage and poor vaccine efficacy when not tightly controlled. Discovering new tools to control nonprotective antigen-specific IFN-gamma production without affecting protective IFN-gamma is a challenge in tuberculosis research. Immunization with DNA encoding Ag85B, a candidate vaccine antigen of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, elicited in mice a low but protective CD4(+) T cell-mediated IFN-gamma response, while in mice primed with DNA and boosted with Ag85B protein a massive increase in IFN-gamma response was associated with loss of protection. Both protective and non-protective Ag85B-immunization generated antigen-specific CD8(+) T cells which suppressed IFN-gamma-secreting CD4(+) T cells. However, ex vivo ligation of 4-1BB, a member of TNF-receptor super-family, reduced the massive, non-protective IFN-gamma responses by CD4(+) T cells in protein-boosted mice without affecting the low protective IFN-gamma-secretion in mice immunized with DNA. This selective inhibition was due to the induction of 4-1BB exclusively on CD8(+) T cells of DNA-primed and protein-boosted mice following Ag85B protein stimulation. The 4-1BB-mediated IFN-gamma inhibition did not require soluble IL-10, TGF-beta, XCL-1 and MIP-1beta. In vivo Ag85B stimulation induced 4-1BB expression on CD8(+) T cells and in vivo 4-1BB ligation reduced the activation, IFN-gamma production and expansion of Ag85B-specific CD4(+) T cells of DNA-primed and protein-boosted mice. Antigen-specific suppressor CD8(+) T cells are elicited through immunization with the mycobacterial antigen Ag85B. Ligation of 4-1BB receptor further enhanced their suppressive activity on IFN-gamma-secreting CD4(+) T cells. The selective expression of 4-1BB only on CD8(+) T cells in mice developing a massive, non-protective IFN-gamma response opens novel strategies for intervention in tuberculosis pathology and vaccination through T-cell co-stimulatory-based molecular targeting.

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