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AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 2012 Dec;28(12):1693-702. doi: 10.1089/AID.2012.0028. Epub 2012 May 4.

CD4 T cell depletion exacerbates acute Mycobacterium tuberculosis while reactivation of latent infection is dependent on severity of tissue depletion in cynomolgus macaques.

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Department of Pediatrics, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.


CD4 T cells are believed to be important in protection against Mycobacterium tuberculosis, but the relative contribution to control of initial or latent infection is not known. Antibody-mediated depletion of CD4 T cells in M. tuberculosis-infected cynomolgus macaques was used to study the role of CD4 T cells during acute and latent infection. Anti-CD4 antibody severely reduced levels of CD4 T cells in blood, airways, and lymph nodes. Increased pathology and bacterial burden were observed in CD4-depleted monkeys during the first 8 weeks of infection compared to controls. CD4-depleted monkeys had greater interferon (IFN)-γ expression and altered expression of CD8 T cell activation markers. During latent infection, CD4 depletion resulted in clinical reactivation in only three of six monkeys. Reactivation was associated with lower CD4 T cells in the hilar lymph nodes. During both acute and latent infection, CD4 depletion was associated with reduced percentages of CXCR3(+) expressing CD8 T cells, reported to be involved in T cell recruitment, regulatory function, and effector and memory T cell maturation. CXCR3(+) CD8 T cells from hilar lymph nodes had more mycobacteria-specific cytokine expression and greater coexpression of multiple cytokines compared to CXCR3(-) CD8 T cells. CD4 T cells are required for protection against acute infection but reactivation from latent infection is dependent on the severity of depletion in the draining lymph nodes. CD4 depletion influences CD8 T cell function. This study has important implications for human HIV-M. tuberculosis coinfection.

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