Increased IL-4 production in response to virulent Mycobacterium tuberculosis in tuberculosis patients with advanced disease.

Diane J Ordway, Marta S Martins, Leonor M Costa, Mónica S Freire, Maria J Arroz, Hazel M Dockrell, Fernando A Ventura


The study was designed to compare immune responses to Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacilli and antigens in healthy Portuguese subjects and pulmonary tuberculosis patients (TB), and to correlate immune status with clinical severity of tuberculosis disease. PBMC were cultured and stimulated with live and killed M. tuberculosis H37Rv and purified protein derivative (PPD) and lymphoproliferation and production of IFN-gamma and IL-5/IL-4 by these cultures were evaluated by the use of ELISA and multi-parameter flow cytometry. PBMC from 30 tuberculosis patients demonstrated significantly reduced amounts of proliferation and IFN-gamma when stimulated with live M. tuberculosis compared the control group. Of 15 tuberculosis patients tested for intracellular IL-4 following stimulation with M. tuberculosis, 7 showed greatly increased IL-4 production in CD8+ and gammadelta+ T cells. Tuberculosis patients demonstrated an increase of intracellular IL-4 after PBMC were stimulated with live M. tuberculosis in the CD4+ phenotype, but more notably in CD8+ and gammadelta TCR+ subsets. Increased production of IL-4 in tuberculosis patients was primarily in individuals with advanced involvement of lung parenchymal with high bacterial loads in sputum. These results suggest that an alteration in type 1 and type 2 cytokine balance can occur in patients with tuberculosis at an advanced clinical stage of disease.

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