PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles

Immunology - Infectious Diseases - Pathology - Pediatrics and Child Health

Granulysin-Expressing CD4+ T Cells as Candidate Immune Marker for Tuberculosis during Childhood and Adolescence
Published: Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Author: Henrik Mueller et al.

by Henrik Mueller, Kellen C. Faé, Klaus Magdorf, Christian A. Ganoza, Ulrich Wahn, Ute Guhlich, Cornelia Feiterna-Sperling, Stefan H. E. Kaufmann


Granulysin produced by cytolytic T cells directly contributes to immune defense against tuberculosis (TB). We investigated granulysin as a candidate immune marker for childhood and adolescent TB.


Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from children and adolescents (1–17 years) with active TB, latent TB infection (LTBI), nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) infection and from uninfected controls were isolated and restimulated in a 7-day restimulation assay. Intracellular staining was then performed to analyze antigen-specific induction of activation markers and cytotoxic proteins, notably, granulysin in CD4+ CD45RO+ memory T cells.


CD4+ CD45RO+ T cells co-expressing granulysin with specificity for Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) were present in high frequency in TB-experienced children and adolescents. Proliferating memory T cells (CFSElowCD4+CD45RO+) were identified as main source of granulysin and these cells expressed both central and effector memory phenotype. PBMC from study participants after TB drug therapy revealed that granulysin-expressing CD4+ T cells are long-lived, and express several activation and cytotoxicity markers with a proportion of cells being interferon-gamma-positive. In addition, granulysin-expressing T cell lines showed cytolytic activity against Mtb-infected target cells.


Our data suggest granulysin expression by CD4+ memory T cells as candidate immune marker for TB infection, notably, in childhood and adolescence.