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Distinct IFN-gamma and IL-2 profiles of Ag-specific CD4(+) T cells have recently been associated with different clinical disease states and Ag loads in viral infections. We assessed the kinetics and functional profile of Mycobacterium tuberculosis Ag-specific T cells secreting IFN-gamma and IL-2 in 23 patients with untreated active tuberculosis when bacterial and Ag loads are high and after curative treatment, when Ag load is reduced. The frequencies of M. tuberculosis Ag-specific IFN-gamma-secreting T cells declined during 28 mo of follow-up with an average percentage decline of 5.8% per year (p = 0.005), while the frequencies of Ag-specific IL-2-secreting T cells increased during treatment (p = 0.02). These contrasting dynamics for the two cytokines led to a progressive convergence of the frequencies of IFN-gamma- and IL-2-secreting cells over 28 mo. Simultaneous measurement of IFN-gamma and IL-2 secretion at the single-cell level revealed a codominance of IFN-gamma-only secreting and IFN-gamma/IL-2 dual secreting CD4(+) T cells in active disease that shifted to dominance of IFN-gamma/IL-2-secreting CD4(+) T cells and newly detectable IL-2-only secreting CD4(+) T cells during and after treatment. These distinct T cell functional signatures before and after treatment suggest a novel immunological marker of mycobacterial load and clinical status in tuberculosis that now requires validation in larger prospective studies.


Journal article


J Immunol

Publication Date





5217 - 5226


Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Antigens, Bacterial, Bacterial Proteins, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Humans, Interferon-gamma, Interleukin-2, Male, Middle Aged, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, T-Lymphocytes