HIV-1-related pleural tuberculosis: elevated production of IFN-g, but failure of immunity to Mycobacterium tuberculosis

Publication Date: 
Friday, March 9, 2001
Hodsdon WS, Luzze H, Hurst TJ, Quigley MA, Kyosiimire J, Namujja PB, Johnson JL, Kaleebu P, Okwera A and Elliott AM

Pleural tuberculosis can resolve spontaneously, suggesting that the inflammatory process may represent a protective immune response. However, pleural tuberculosis is strongly associated with HIV infection. It has been suggested that cell-mediated immune responses may be reduced, and direct bacterial invasion may have a role in pathogenesis, in HIV-positive cases. To test this hypothesis, we compared production of the pro-inflammatory cytokines, interferon (IFN)-gamma and tumour necrosis factor(TNF)-alpha, production of the immunosuppressive cytokine, interleukin (IL)-10, and mycobacterial culture positivity, in HIV-negative and HIV-positive patients with pleural tuberculosis.

Cytokine levels were measured in serum and pleural fluid, and in supernatants of blood and pleural fluid stimulated in vitro using mycobacterial antigens. Intracellular IFN-gamma and TNF-alpha production was measured after stimulation with phorbol myristate acetate and ionomycin in vitro.

IFN-gamma was strikingly elevated in serum and pleural fluid in HIV-positive, compared to HIV-negative subjects (P < or = 0.02). TNF-alpha was elevated, but this was not statistically significant. IL-10 levels were higher in serum (P < 0.001), but similar in pleural fluid. IFN-gamma responses to soluble mycobacterial antigen in vitro were reduced in peripheral blood (P = 0.006), but not pleural fluid, of HIV-positive subjects. Intracellular cytokine staining suggested that CD8+ T cells were a major source of IFN-gamma in HIV-positive subjects. The proportion of subjects with a positive culture for Mycobacterium tuberculosis from pleural fluid was higher in the HIV-positive group.

HIV-positive patients with pleural tuberculosis show elevated production of IFN-gamma, for which CD8+ T cells may be a major source. Mycobacterium tuberculosis can proliferate despite high levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines.
PMID: 11242143 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]