Article révisé par les pairs
Résumé : RATIONALE: Tuberculosis (TB) remains a leading cause of death, and the role of T-cell responses to control Mycobacterium tuberculosis infections is well recognized. Patients with latent TB infection develop strong IFN-gamma responses to the protective antigen heparin-binding hemagglutinin (HBHA), whereas patients with active TB do not. OBJECTIVES: We investigated the mechanism of this difference and evaluated the possible involvement of regulatory T (Treg) cells and/or cytokines in the low HBHA T-cell responses of patients with active TB. METHODS: The impact of anti-transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta and anti-IL-10 antibodies and of Treg cell depletion on the HBHA-induced IFN-gamma secretion was analyzed, and the Treg cell phenotype was characterized by flow cytometry. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Although the addition of anti-TGF-beta or anti-IL-10 antibodies had no effect on the HBHA-induced IFN-gamma secretion in patients with active TB, depletion of CD4(+)CD25(high)FOXP3(+) T lymphocytes resulted in the induction by HBHA of IFN-gamma concentrations that reached levels similar to those obtained for latent TB infection. No effect was noted on the early-secreted antigen target-6 or candidin T-cell responses. CONCLUSIONS: Specific CD4(+)CD25(high)FOXP3(+) T cells depress the T-cell-mediated immune responses to the protective mycobacterial antigen HBHA during active TB in humans.