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Int J Infect Dis. 2015 Mar;32:13-22. doi: 10.1016/j.ijid.2014.12.017.

Mycobacterium tuberculosis-specific and MHC class I-restricted CD8+ T-cells exhibit a stem cell precursor-like phenotype in patients with active pulmonary tuberculosis.

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Centre for Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplantation (CAST), Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.
Catholic University of Korea, Seoul St. Mary's Hospital, Seoul, South Korea.
Division of Infection and Immunity, University College London, and NIHR Biomedical Research Center at UCLHospital, London, United Kingdom.
Centre for Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplantation (CAST), Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden; Division of Therapeutic Immunology (TIM), F79, Department of Laboratory Medicine (LABMED), Hälsovägen, Karolinska University Hospital Huddinge, SE-14186 Huddinge, Sweden. Electronic address:


The nature and longevity of the T-cell response directed against Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) are important for effective pathogen containment. We analyzed ex vivo the nature of MTB antigen-specific T-cell responses directed against the MTB secreted antigens Rv0288, Rv1886c, Rv3875, the antigens Rv2958c, Rv2957, and Rv0447c (intracellular, non-secreted enzymes) in blood from Korean patients with active tuberculosis (TB). MTB-specific T-cell function was defined by intracellular cytokine production (interleukin (IL)-2, interferon gamma, tumour necrosis factor alpha, and IL-17) and by multimer-guided (HLA-A*02:01 and HLA-A*24:02) analysis of epitope-specific CD8+ T-cells, along with phenotypic markers (CD45RA and CCR7), CD107a, a marker for degranulation, and CD127 co-staining for T-cell differentiation and homing. Cytokine production analysis underestimated the frequencies of MTB antigen-specific T-cells defined by major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I-peptide multimer analysis. We showed that MTB antigen-specific CD8+ T-cells exhibit a distinct marker profile associated with the nature of the MTB antigens, i.e., Rv0288, Rv1886c, and Rv3875-reactive T-cells clustered in the precursor T-cell compartment, whereas Rv2958c, Rv2957, and Rv0447c-reactive T-cells were associated with the terminally differentiated T-cell phenotype, in the patient cohort. Rv0288, Rv1886c, and Rv3875-specific CD8+ T-cells were significantly enriched for CD107a+ T-cells in HLA-A*02:01 (p<0.0001) and HLA-A*24:02 (p=0.0018) positive individuals, as compared to Rv2958c, Rv2957, and Rv0447c antigens. CD127 (IL-7 receptor)-expressing T-cells were enriched in HLA-A*02:01-positive individuals for the Rv0288, Rv1886c, and Rv3875 specificities (p=0.03). A high proportion of antigen-specific T-cells showed a precursor-like phenotype (CD45RA+CCR7+) and expressed the stem cell-associated markers CD95 and c-kit. These data show that MTB-specific T-cells can express stem cell-like features; this is associated with the nature of the MTB antigen and the genetic background of the individual.


CD8+ T-cells; Mycobacterium tuberculosis; T-cell differentiation; Tetramer

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