PloS one

Variation of Mycobacterium tuberculosis antigen-specific IFN-γ and IL-17 responses in healthy tuberculin skin test (TST)-positive human subjects.

PMID 22880090


To determine the variation of IFN-γ and IL-17 responses to M. tuberculosis antigens in healthy TST+ humans. We isolated peripheral blood mononuclear cells from 21 TST+ healthy adults, stimulated them with phytohemagglutinin (PHA), PPD, Ag85B, ESAT-6, and live M. bovis BCG, and assayed IFN-γ and IL-17 secretion by ELISA in supernatants after 24 or 72 hours of incubation respectively. As in other studies, we found a wide range of IFN-γ responses to M. tuberculosis antigens; the variation significantly exceeded that observed in the same donors to the polyclonal T cell stimulus, phytohemagglutinin (PHA). In addition, we assayed IL-17 secretion in response to the same stimuli, and found less subject-to-subject variation. Analysis of the ratio of IFN-γ to IL-17 secretion on a subject-to-subject basis also revealed a wide range, with the majority of results distributed in a narrow range, and a minority with extreme results all of which were greater than that in the majority of subjects. The data suggest that study of exceptional responses to M. tuberculosis antigens may reveal immunologic correlates with specific outcomes of M. tuberculosis infection. Variation of IFNγ and IFN-γ/IL-17 responses to mycobacterial antigens exceeds that of responses to the polyclonal stimulus, PHA, in TST positive healthy humans. This indicates a quantitative spectrum of human immune responses to infection with M. tuberculosis. Since the outcome of human infection with M. tuberculosis varies greatly, systematic study of multiple immune responses to multiple antigens is likely to reveal correlations between selected immune responses and the outcomes of infection.