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Keywords:

  • CD4+ T cells;
  • HIV-1;
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis;
  • Pericarditis

Abstract

HIV-1-infected people have an increased risk of developing extrapulmonary tuberculosis (TB), the immunopathogenesis of which is poorly understood. Here, we conducted a detailed immunological analysis of human pericardial TB, to determine the effect of HIV-1 co-infection on the phenotype of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB)-specific memory T cells and the role of polyfunctional T cells at the disease site, using cells from pericardial fluid and blood of 74 patients with (n=50) and without (n=24) HIV-1 co-infection. The MTB antigen-induced IFN-γ response was elevated at the disease site, irrespective of HIV-1 status or antigenic stimulant. However, the IFN-γ ELISpot showed no clear evidence of increased numbers of antigen-specific cells at the disease site except for ESAT-6 in HIV-1 uninfected individuals (p=0.009). Flow cytometric analysis showed that CD4+ memory T cells in the pericardial fluid of HIV-1-infected patients were of a less differentiated phenotype, with the presence of polyfunctional CD4+ T cells expressing TNF, IL-2 and IFN-γ. These results indicate that HIV-1 infection results in altered phenotype and function of MTB-specific CD4+ T cells at the disease site, which may contribute to the increased risk of developing TB at all stages of HIV-1 infection.