Although clinical immunity to malaria eventually develops among children living in endemic settings, the underlying immunologic mechanisms are not known. The V?2(+) subset of ?? T cells have intrinsic reactivity to malaria antigens, can mediate killing of Plasmodium falciparum merozoites, and expand markedly in vivo after malaria infection in previously naïve hosts, but their role in mediating immunity in children repeatedly exposed to malaria is unclear. We evaluated ?? T cell responses to malaria among 4-year-old children enrolled in a longitudinal study in Uganda. We found that repeated malaria was associated with reduced percentages of V?2(+) ?? T cells in peripheral blood, decreased proliferation and cytokine production in response to malaria antigens, and increased expression of immunoregulatory genes. Further, loss and dysfunction of proinflammatory V?2(+) ?? T cells were associated with a reduced likelihood of symptoms upon subsequent P. falciparum infection. Together, these results suggest that repeated malaria infection during childhood results in progressive loss and dysfunction of V?2(+) ?? T cells that may facilitate immunological tolerance of the parasite.
Although evidence suggests that T cells are critical for immunity to malaria, reliable T cell correlates of exposure to and protection from malaria among children living in endemic areas are lacking. We used multiparameter flow cytometry to perform a detailed functional characterization of malaria-specific T cells in 78 four-year-old children enrolled in a longitudinal cohort study in Tororo, Uganda, a highly malaria-endemic region. More than 1800 episodes of malaria were observed in this cohort, with no cases of severe malaria. We quantified production of IFN?, TNF?, and IL-10 (alone or in combination) by malaria-specific T cells, and analyzed the relationship of this response to past and future malaria incidence. CD4(+) T cell responses were measurable in nearly all children, with the majority of children having CD4(+) T cells producing both IFN? and IL-10 in response to malaria-infected red blood cells. Frequencies of IFN?/IL10 co-producing CD4(+) T cells, which express the Th1 transcription factor T-bet, were significantly higher in children with ?2 prior episodes/year compared to children with <2 episodes/year (P<0.001) and inversely correlated with duration since malaria (Rho?=?-0.39, P<0.001). Notably, frequencies of IFN?/IL10 co-producing cells were not associated with protection from future malaria after controlling for prior malaria incidence. In contrast, children with <2 prior episodes/year were significantly more likely to exhibit antigen-specific production of TNF? without IL-10 (P?=?0.003). While TNF?-producing CD4(+) T cells were not independently associated with future protection, the absence of cells producing this inflammatory cytokine was associated with the phenotype of asymptomatic infection. Together these data indicate that the functional phenotype of the malaria-specific T cell response is heavily influenced by malaria exposure intensity, with IFN?/IL10 co-producing CD4(+) T cells dominating this response among highly exposed children. These CD4(+) T cells may play important modulatory roles in the development of antimalarial immunity.
The T cell immunoglobulin mucin 3 (Tim-3) receptor is highly expressed on HIV-1-specific T cells, rendering them partially "exhausted" and unable to contribute to the effective immune mediated control of viral replication. To elucidate novel mechanisms contributing to the HTLV-1 neurological complex and its classic neurological presentation called HAM/TSP (HTLV-1 associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis), we investigated the expression of the Tim-3 receptor on CD8(+) T cells from a cohort of HTLV-1 seropositive asymptomatic and symptomatic patients. Patients diagnosed with HAM/TSP down-regulated Tim-3 expression on both CD8(+) and CD4(+) T cells compared to asymptomatic patients and HTLV-1 seronegative controls. HTLV-1 Tax-specific, HLA-A*02 restricted CD8(+) T cells among HAM/TSP individuals expressed markedly lower levels of Tim-3. We observed Tax expressing cells in both Tim-3(+) and Tim-3(-) fractions. Taken together, these data indicate that there is a systematic downregulation of Tim-3 levels on T cells in HTLV-1 infection, sustaining a profoundly highly active population of potentially pathogenic T cells that may allow for the development of HTLV-1 complications.
NKT cells contribute to the modulation of immune responses and are believed to be important in the pathogenesis of autoimmune and infectious diseases, as well as cancer. Variations in the composite NKT cytokine response may determine individual disease susceptibility or severity. Due to low frequencies in peripheral blood, knowledge of the breadth of ex vivo human NKT cell functions has been limited. To bridge this gap, we studied highly purified NKT cells from PBMC of healthy donors and assessed the production of 27 effector functions using sensitive Elispot and multiplex bead assays. We found the ex vivo human NKT cell response is predominantly comprised of the chemokines MIP1-?, and MIP1-? as well as the Th1 cytokines IFN-? and TNF-?. Although lower in magnitude, there was also significant production of IL-2, IL-4, and perforin after mitogen stimulation. Surprisingly, little/no IL-5, IL-6, IL-10, or IL-13 was detected, and no subjects NKT cells produced IL-17. Comparison of the NKT functional profiles between age-matched male and female subjects revealed similar IL-4 responses, but higher frequencies of cells producing IFN-? and MIP1-?, from males. There were no gender differences in the circulating NKT subset distribution. These findings implicate chemokines as a major mechanism by which NKT cells control responses in humans. In addition, the panoply of Th2 and Th17 cytokine secretion by NKT cells from healthy donors may not be as pronounced as previously believed. NKT cells may therefore contribute to the gender bias found in many diseases.
Little is known about the manipulation of IL-17 producing CD4+ T cells (T(H)17) on a per-cell basis in humans in vivo. Previous studies on the effects of IL-2 on IL-17 secretion in non-HIV models have shown divergent results. We hypothesized that IL-2 would mediate changes in IL-17 levels among recently HIV-1-infected adults receiving anti-retroviral therapy. We measured cytokine T cell responses to CD3/CD28, HIV-1 Gag, and CMV pp65 stimulation, and changes in multiple CD4+ T cell subsets. Those who received IL-2 showed a robust expansion of naive and total CD4+ T cell counts and T-reg counts. However, after IL-2 treatment, the frequency of T(H)17 cells declined, while counts of T(H)17 cells did not change due to an expansion of the CD4+ naïve T cell population (CD27+CD45RA+). Counts of HIV-1 Gag-specific T cells declined modestly, but CMV pp65 and CD3/CD28 stimulated populations did not change. Hence, in contrast with recent studies, our results suggest IL-2 is not a potent in vivo regulator of T(H)17 cell populations in HIV-1 disease. However, IL-2-mediated T-reg expansions may selectively reduce responses to certain antigen-specific populations, such as HIV-1 Gag.
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