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PLoS One. 2013;8(3):e58612. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0058612. Epub 2013 Mar 5.

Clonal expansions of CD8+ T cells with IL-10 secreting capacity occur during chronic Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection.

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  • 1Department of Microbial Infection and Immunity, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA.


The exact role of CD8(+) T cells during Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) infection has been heavily debated, yet it is generally accepted that CD8(+) T cells contribute to protection against Mtb. In this study, however, we show that the Mtb-susceptible CBA/J mouse strain accumulates large numbers of CD8(+) T cells in the lung as infection progresses, and that these cells display a dysfunctional and immunosuppressive phenotype (PD-1(+), Tim-3(+), CD122(+)). CD8(+) T cell expansions from the lungs of Mtb-infected CBA/J mice were also capable of secreting the immunosuppressive cytokine interleukin-10 (IL-10), although in vivo CD8(+) T cell depletion did not significantly alter Mtb burden. Further analysis revealed that pulmonary CD8(+) T cells from Mtb-infected CBA/J mice were clonally expanded, preferentially expressing T cell receptor (TcR) Vβ chain 8 (8.2, 8.3) or Vβ 14. Although Vβ8(+) CD8(+) T cells were responsible for the majority of IL-10 production, in vivo depletion of Vβ8(+) did not significantly change the outcome of Mtb infection, which we hypothesize was a consequence of their dual IL-10/IFN-γ secreting profiles. Our data demonstrate that IL-10-secreting CD8(+) T cells can arise during chronic Mtb infection, although the significance of this T cell population in tuberculosis pathogenesis remains unclear.

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