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1.  Dynamics of Adrenal Steroids Are Related to Variations in Th1 and Treg Populations during Mycobacterium tuberculosis Infection in HIV Positive Persons 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e33061.
Tuberculosis (TB) remains the most frequent cause of illness and death from an infectious agent, and its interaction with HIV has devastating effects. We determined plasma levels of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), its circulating form DHEA-suphate (DHEA-s) and cortisol in different stages of M. tuberculosis infection, and explored their role on the Th1 and Treg populations during different scenarios of HIV-TB coinfection, including the immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (IRIS), a condition related to antiretroviral treatment. DHEA levels were diminished in HIV-TB and HIV-TB IRIS patients compared to healthy donors (HD), HIV+ individuals and HIV+ individuals with latent TB (HIV-LTB), whereas dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-s) levels were markedly diminished in HIV-TB IRIS individuals. HIV-TB and IRIS patients presented a cortisol/DHEA ratio significantly higher than HIV+, HIV-LTB and HD individuals. A positive correlation was observed between DHEA-s and CD4 count among HIV-TB individuals. Conversely, cortisol plasma level inversely correlated with CD4 count within HIV-TB individuals. M. tuberculosis-specific Th1 lymphocyte count was increased after culturing PBMC from HIV-TB individuals in presence of DHEA. We observed an inverse correlation between DHEA-s plasma level and Treg frequency in co-infected individuals, and CD4+FoxP3+ Treg frequency was increased in HIV-TB and IRIS patients compared to other groups. Strikingly, we observed a prominent CD4+CD25-FoxP3+ population across HIV-TB and HIV-TB IRIS patients, which frequency correlated with DHEA plasma level. Finally, DHEA treatment negatively regulated FoxP3 expression without altering Treg frequency in co-infected patients. These data suggest an enhancing role for DHEA in the immune response against M. tuberculosis during HIV-TB coinfection and IRIS.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0033061
PMCID: PMC3303789  PMID: 22431997
2.  A Multifaceted Analysis of Immune-Endocrine-Metabolic Alterations in Patients with Pulmonary Tuberculosis 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e26363.
Our study investigated the circulating levels of factors involved in immune-inflammatory-endocrine-metabolic responses in patients with tuberculosis with the aim of uncovering a relation between certain immune and hormonal patterns, their clinical status and in vitro immune response. The concentration of leptin, adiponectin, IL-6, IL-1β, ghrelin, C-reactive protein (CRP), cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and the in vitro immune response (lymphoproliferation and IFN-γ production) was evaluated in 53 patients with active untreated tuberculosis, 27 household contacts and 25 healthy controls, without significant age- or sex-related differences. Patients had a lower body mass index (BMI), reduced levels of leptin and DHEA, and increased concentrations of CRP, IL-6, cortisol, IL-1β and nearly significant adiponectin values than household contacts and controls. Within tuberculosis patients the BMI and leptin levels were positively correlated and decreased with increasing disease severity, whereas higher concentrations of IL-6, CRP, IL-1β, cortisol, and ghrelin were seen in cases with moderate to severe tuberculosis. Household contacts had lower DHEA and higher IL-6 levels than controls. Group classification by means of discriminant analysis and the k-nearest neighbor method showed that tuberculosis patients were clearly different from the other groups, having higher levels of CRP and lower DHEA concentration and BMI. Furthermore, plasma leptin levels were positively associated with the basal in vitro IFN-γ production and the ConA-driven proliferation of cells from tuberculosis patients. Present alterations in the communication between the neuro-endocrine and immune systems in tuberculosis may contribute to disease worsening.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0026363
PMCID: PMC3192801  PMID: 22022605

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