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Immunology. 1998 Sep;95(1):69-75.

Analysis of T cells recruited during delayed-type hypersensitivity to purified protein derivative (PPD) versus challenge with tuberculosis infection.

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Department of TB Immunology, Statens Serum Institut, Copenhagen, Denmark.


The delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) to purified protein derivative (PPD) test has been used to infer about protective immunity to Mycobacterium tuberculosis and to diagnose tuberculosis. We showed that in memory tuberculosis-immune mice both DTH to PPD and resistance to M. tuberculosis could be effectively elicited in the footpad and both reactions led to the accumulation of reactive T cells in the regional lymph nodes with a CD4+ phenotype and characterized by the secretion of high levels of interleukin-2 (IL-2) and interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) and no IL-4. By adoptive transfer into nude mice of highly purified CD4+ T cells harvested during the recall of protective immunity it was confirmed that this population mediated both manifestations. However, the specificity of the T cells recruited during these processes were found to differ markedly; T cells involved in protection to a challenge with live tuberculosis bacilli recognized predominantly low-mass culture filtrate antigens below 15 000 MW, while cells recruited during DTH to PPD were directed to molecular mass fractions between 15 000 and 31 000. Using single purified antigens we showed that the latter cells recognized the secreted mycobacterial protein Ag85B and the heat-shock proteins, DnaK and GroEL. Protective T cells, in contrast, were characterized by a very high frequency of T cells directed to the ESAT-6 peptide 1-20.

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