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J Infect Dis. 2014 Jan 15;209(2):290-9. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jit401. Epub 2013 Aug 6.

CD8 T cell exhaustion in human visceral leishmaniasis.

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Institute of Medical Sciences, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India.


Little is known about CD8 T cells in human visceral leishmaniasis (VL) and it is unclear if these cells have a protective, pathological and/or suppressive function. In experimental VL CD8 T cells have been shown to contribute to parasite control and play an important role in vaccine-generated immunity. To better understand the role of CD8 T cells in human VL, we examined molecules associated with anergy and cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and splenic aspirates (SA), and in CD8 cells derived from these tissues. Gene and surface marker expression suggest that splenic CD8 cell predominantly display an anergic phenotype, whereas CD8-PBMC have features of both anergic cells and CTLs. CD8 cells contribute to the baseline IFNγ levels in whole blood (WB) and SA cultures, but not to the Leishmania induced IFNγ release that is revealed using WB cultures. Blockade of CTLA-4 or PD1 had no effect on IFNγ production or parasite survival in SA cultures. Following cure, CD8 T cells contribute to the Leishmania induced IFNγ production observed in Leishmania stimulated cell cultures. We suggest CD8 T cells are driven to anergy/exhaustion in human VL, which affect their ability to contribute to protective immune responses.


CD8 T cell; CTLA-4; IL-10; PBMC; PD1; Visceral leishmaniasis; spleen

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