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