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1.  Maturation of Innate Responses to Mycobacteria over the First 9 Months of Life 
Newborns and young infants are particularly susceptible to infections, including Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Further, immunogenicity of vaccines against tuberculosis and other infectious diseases appears suboptimal early in life, compared with later in life. We hypothesized that developmental changes in innate immunity would underlie these observations.
To determine evolution of innate responses to mycobacteria early in life, whole blood from newborns, 10-week old and 36-week old infants was incubated with viable Mycobacterium bovis Bacille Calmette Guerin (BCG) or TLR ligands. Innate cell expression of cytokines and maturation markers was assessed, as well as activation of the pro-inflammatory NF-κB and MAPK signaling pathways.
BCG-induced production of pro-inflammatory cytokines TNF-α, IL-6 and IL-12p40 increased from the newborn period to 9 months of age in monocytes, but not in myeloid dendritic cells (mDCs). No changes in production of anti-inflammatory IL-10 were observed. CD40 expression increased with age in both cell populations. Older infants displayed substantial activation of all three signal transduction molecules: degradation of NF-κB inhibitor IκBα and phosphorylation of MAPK Erk and p38 upon TLR1/2 triggering, compared with predominant activation of only one of any of these molecules in newborns.
Maturation of innate pro-inflammatory responses during the first 9 months of life may underlie more effective control of mycobacteria and other pathogens observed later in infancy, and age-related differential induction of Th1 responses by vaccination.
PMCID: PMC4048703  PMID: 24733845
infants; monocytes; mycobacteria; pro-inflammatory; signal transduction
2.  Heterologous vaccination against human tuberculosis modulates antigen-specific CD4 T cell function 
European journal of immunology  2013;43(9):10.1002/eji.201343454.
Heterologous prime-boost strategies hold promise for vaccination against tuberculosis (TB). However, the T cell characteristics required for protection are not known. We proposed that boost vaccines should induce long-lived functional and phenotypic changes to T cells primed by BCG and/or natural exposure to mycobacteria.
We characterized changes among specific CD4 T cells after vaccination with the MVA85A vaccine in adults, adolescents and children.
CD4 T cells identified with Ag85A peptide-bearing HLA class II tetramers, were characterized by flow cytometry. We also measured proliferative potential and cytokine expression of Ag85A-specific CD4 T cells.
During the effector phase, MVA85A-induced specific CD4 T cells co-expressed IFN-γ and IL-2, skin homing integrins and the activation marker CD38. This was followed by contraction and a transition to predominantly IL-2-expressing, CD45RACCR7+CD27+ or CD45RA+CCR7+CD27+ specific CD4 T cells. These surface phenotypes were similar to Ag85A-specific T cells prior to MVA85A. However, functional differences were observed post-vaccination: specific proliferative capacity was markedly higher after 6-12 months than before vaccination.
Our data suggest that MVA85A vaccination may modulate Ag85A-specific CD4 T cell function, resulting in greater recall potential. Importantly, surface phenotypes commonly used as proxies for memory T cell function did not associate with functional effects of vaccination.
PMCID: PMC3816254  PMID: 23737382
proliferation; MVA85A; vaccine; T cells; HLA class II tetramer
3.  Safety and Immunogenicity of H1/IC31®, an Adjuvanted TB Subunit Vaccine, in HIV-Infected Adults with CD4+ Lymphocyte Counts Greater than 350 cells/mm3: A Phase II, Multi-Centre, Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e114602.
Novel tuberculosis vaccines should be safe, immunogenic, and effective in various population groups, including HIV-infected individuals. In this phase II multi-centre, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, the safety and immunogenicity of the novel H1/IC31 vaccine, a fusion protein of Ag85B-ESAT-6 (H1) formulated with the adjuvant IC31, was evaluated in HIV-infected adults.
HIV-infected adults with CD4+ T cell counts >350/mm3 and without evidence of active tuberculosis were enrolled and followed until day 182. H1/IC31 vaccine or placebo was randomly allocated in a 5∶1 ratio. The vaccine was administered intramuscularly at day 0 and 56. Safety assessment was based on medical history, clinical examinations, and blood and urine testing. Immunogenicity was determined by a short-term whole blood intracellular cytokine staining assay.
47 of the 48 randomised participants completed both vaccinations. In total, 459 mild or moderate and 2 severe adverse events were reported. There were three serious adverse events in two vaccinees classified as not related to the investigational product. Local injection site reactions were more common in H1/IC31 versus placebo recipients (65.0% vs. 12.5%, p = 0.015). Solicited systemic and unsolicited adverse events were similar by study arm. The baseline CD4+ T cell count and HIV viral load were similar by study arm and remained constant over time. The H1/IC31 vaccine induced a persistent Th1-immune response with predominately TNF-α and IL-2 co-expressing CD4+ T cells, as well as polyfunctional IFN-γ, TNF-α and IL-2 expressing CD4+ T cells.
H1/IC31 was well tolerated and safe in HIV-infected adults with a CD4+ Lymphocyte count greater than 350 cells/mm3. The vaccine did not have an effect on CD4+ T cell count or HIV-1 viral load. H1/IC31 induced a specific and durable Th1 immune response.
Trial registration
Pan African Clinical Trials Registry (PACTR) PACTR201105000289276
PMCID: PMC4260867  PMID: 25490675
4.  Combined Use of Mycobacterium tuberculosis–Specific CD4 and CD8 T-Cell Responses Is a Powerful Diagnostic Tool of Active Tuberculosis 
Immune-based assays are promising tools to help to formulate diagnosis of active tuberculosis. A multiparameter flow cytometry assay assessing T-cell responses specific to Mycobacterium tuberculosis and the combination of both CD4 and CD8 T-cell responses accurately discriminated between active tuberculosis and latent infection.
PMCID: PMC4293395  PMID: 25362202
diagnosis; active tuberculosis disease; latent Mtb infection; functional profile; CD8 T cells
5.  St John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum L.) Photomedicine: Hypericin-Photodynamic Therapy Induces Metastatic Melanoma Cell Death 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e103762.
Hypericin, an extract from St John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum L.), is a promising photosensitizer in the context of clinical photodynamic therapy due to its excellent photosensitizing properties and tumoritropic characteristics. Hypericin-PDT induced cytotoxicity elicits tumor cell death by various mechanisms including apoptosis, necrosis and autophagy-related cell death. However, limited reports on the efficacy of this photomedicine for the treatment of melanoma have been published. Melanoma is a highly aggressive tumor due to its metastasizing potential and resistance to conventional cancer therapies. The aim of this study was to investigate the response mechanisms of melanoma cells to hypericin-PDT in an in vitro tissue culture model. Hypericin was taken up by all melanoma cells and partially co-localized to the endoplasmic reticulum, mitochondria, lysosomes and melanosomes, but not the nucleus. Light activation of hypericin induced a rapid, extensive modification of the tubular mitochondrial network into a beaded appearance, loss of structural details of the endoplasmic reticulum and concomitant loss of hypericin co-localization. Surprisingly the opposite was found for lysosomal-related organelles, suggesting that the melanoma cells may be using these intracellular organelles for hypericin-PDT resistance. In line with this speculation we found an increase in cellular granularity, suggesting an increase in pigmentation levels in response to hypericin-PDT. Pigmentation in melanoma is related to a melanocyte-specific organelle, the melanosome, which has recently been implicated in drug trapping, chemotherapy and hypericin-PDT resistance. However, hypericin-PDT was effective in killing both unpigmented (A375 and 501mel) and pigmented (UCT Mel-1) melanoma cells by specific mechanisms involving the externalization of phosphatidylserines, cell shrinkage and loss of cell membrane integrity. In addition, this treatment resulted in extrinsic (A375) and intrinsic (UCT Mel-1) caspase-dependent apoptotic modes of cell death, as well as a caspase-independent apoptotic mode that did not involve apoptosis-inducing factor (501 mel). Further research is needed to shed more light on these mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC4116257  PMID: 25076130
6.  Process of Assay Selection and Optimization for the Study of Case and Control Samples from a Phase IIb Efficacy Trial of a Candidate Tuberculosis Vaccine, MVA85A 
The first phase IIb safety and efficacy trial of a new tuberculosis vaccine since that for BCG was completed in October 2012. BCG-vaccinated South African infants were randomized to receive modified vaccinia virus Ankara, expressing the Mycobacterium tuberculosis antigen 85A (MVA85A), or placebo. MVA85A did not significantly boost the protective effect of BCG. Cryopreserved samples provide a unique opportunity for investigating the correlates of the risk of tuberculosis disease in this population. Due to the limited amount of sample available from each infant, preliminary work was necessary to determine which assays and conditions give the most useful information. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) were stimulated with antigen 85A (Ag85A) and purified protein derivative from M. tuberculosis in an ex vivo gamma interferon (IFN-γ) enzyme-linked immunosorbent spot assay (ELISpot) and a Ki67 proliferation assay. The effects of a 2-h or overnight rest of thawed PBMC on ELISpot responses and cell populations were determined. Both the ELISpot and Ki67 assays detected differences between the MVA85A and placebo groups, and the results correlated well. The cell numbers and ELISpot responses decreased significantly after an overnight rest, and surface flow cytometry showed a significant loss of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. Of the infants tested, 50% had a positive ELISpot response to a single pool of flu, Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), and cytomegalovirus (CMV) (FEC) peptides. This pilot work has been essential in determining the assays and conditions to be used in the correlate study. Moving forward, PBMC will be rested for 2 h before assay setup. The ELISpot assay, performed in duplicate, will be selected over the Ki67 assay, and further work is needed to evaluate the effect of high FEC responses on vaccine-induced immunity and susceptibility to tuberculosis disease.
PMCID: PMC4097435  PMID: 24828094
7.  A Phase IIa Trial of the New Tuberculosis Vaccine, MVA85A, in HIV- and/or Mycobacterium tuberculosis–infected Adults 
Rationale: Novel tuberculosis (TB) vaccines should be safe and effective in populations infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb) and/or HIV for effective TB control.
Objective: To determine the safety and immunogenicity of MVA85A, a novel TB vaccine, among M.tb- and/or HIV-infected persons in a setting where TB and HIV are endemic.
Methods: An open-label, phase IIa trial was conducted in 48 adults with M.tb and/or HIV infection. Safety and immunogenicity were analyzed up to 52 weeks after intradermal vaccination with 5 × 107 plaque-forming units of MVA85A. Specific T-cell responses were characterized by IFN-γ enzyme-linked immunospot and whole blood intracellular cytokine staining assays.
Measurements and Main Results: MVA85A was well tolerated and no vaccine-related serious adverse events were recorded. MVA85A induced robust and durable response of mostly polyfunctional CD4+ T cells, coexpressing IFN-γ, tumor necrosis factor-α, and IL-2. Magnitudes of pre- and postvaccination T-cell responses were lower in HIV-infected, compared with HIV-uninfected, vaccinees. No significant effect of antiretroviral therapy on immunogenicity of MVA85A was observed.
Conclusions: MVA85A was safe and immunogenic in persons with HIV and/or M.tb infection. These results support further evaluation of safety and efficacy of this vaccine for prevention of TB in these target populations.
PMCID: PMC3326425  PMID: 22281831
tuberculosis; HIV-1; vaccine; MVA85A; clinical trial
8.  Inflammatory and myeloid-associated gene expression before and one day after infant vaccination with MVA85A correlates with induction of a T cell response 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2014;14:314.
Tuberculosis (TB) remains a global health problem, with vaccination likely to be a necessary part of a successful control strategy. Results of the first Phase 2b efficacy trial of a candidate vaccine, MVA85A, evaluated in BCG-vaccinated infants were published last year. Although no improvement in efficacy above BCG alone was seen, cryopreserved samples from this trial provide an opportunity to study the immune response to vaccination in this population.
We investigated blood samples taken before vaccination (baseline) and one and 28 days post-vaccination with MVA85A or placebo (Candin). The IFN-γ ELISpot assay was performed at baseline and on day 28 to quantify the adaptive response to Ag85A peptides. Gene expression analysis was performed at all three timepoints to identify early gene signatures predictive of the magnitude of the subsequent adaptive T cell response using the significance analysis of microarrays (SAM) statistical package and gene set enrichment analysis.
One day post-MVA85A, there is an induction of inflammatory pathways compared to placebo samples. Modules associated with myeloid cells and inflammation pre- and one day post-MVA85A correlate with a higher IFN-γ ELISpot response post-vaccination. By contrast, previous work done in UK adults shows early inflammation in this population is not associated with a strong T cell response but that induction of regulatory pathways inversely correlates with the magnitude of the T cell response. This may be indicative of important mechanistic differences in how T cell responses develop in these two populations following vaccination with MVA85A.
The results suggest the capacity of MVA85A to induce a strong innate response is key to the initiation of an adaptive immune response in South African infants but induction of regulatory pathways may be more important in UK adults. Understanding differences in immune response to vaccination between populations is likely to be an important aspect of developing successful vaccines and vaccination strategies.
Trial registration number NCT00953927
PMCID: PMC4061512  PMID: 24912498
Tuberculosis; Vaccine; Innate immunity; Transcriptomics; MVA85A
9.  A strategy to determine HLA class II restriction broadly covering the DR, DP and DQ allelic variants most commonly expressed in the general population 
Immunogenetics  2013;65(5):357-370.
Classic ways to determine MHC restriction involve inhibition with locus specific antibodies and antigen presentation assays with panels of cell lines matched or mismatched at the various loci of interest. However, these determinations are often complicated by T-cell epitope degeneracy and promiscuity. We describe selection of 46 HLA DR, DQ and DP specificities that provide worldwide population (phenotypic) coverage of almost 90% at each locus, and account for over 66% of all genes at each locus. This panel afforded coverage of at least four HLA class II alleles in over 95% of the individuals in four study populations of diverse ethnicity from the US and South Africa. Next, a panel of single HLA class II transfected cell lines, corresponding to these 46 allelic variants was assembled, consisting of lines previously developed and 15 novel lines generated for the present study. The novel lines were validated by assessing their HLA class II expression by FACS analysis, the in vitro peptide binding activity of HLA molecules purified from the cell lines, and their antigen presenting capacity to T-cell lines of known restriction. We also show that these HLA class II transfected cell lines can be used to rapidly and unambiguously determine HLA restriction of epitopes recognized by an individual donor in a single experiment. This panel of lines will enable high throughput determination of HLA restriction, enabling better characterization of HLA class II-restricted T-cell responses and facilitating the development of HLA tetrameric staining reagents.
PMCID: PMC3633633  PMID: 23392739
HLA Class II; restriction; transfectants; epitopes; population coverage; polymorphism
10.  Longitudinal Changes in CD4+ T-Cell Memory Responses Induced by BCG Vaccination of Newborns 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2013;207(7):1084-1094.
Background. Improved vaccination strategies against tuberculosis are needed, such as approaches to boost immunity induced by the current vaccine, BCG. Design of these strategies has been hampered by a lack of knowledge of the kinetics of the human host response induced by neonatal BCG vaccination. Furthermore, the functional and phenotypic attributes of BCG-induced long-lived memory T-cell responses remain unclear.
Methods. We assessed the longitudinal CD4+ T-cell response following BCG vaccination of human newborns. The kinetics, function, and phenotype of these cells were measured using flow cytometric whole-blood assays.
Results. We showed that the BCG-specific CD4+ T-cell response peaked 6–10 weeks after vaccination and gradually waned over the first year of life. Highly activated T-helper 1 cells, predominantly expressing interferon γ, tumor necrosis factor α, and/or interleukin 2, were present at the peak response. Following contraction, BCG-specific CD4+ T cells expressed high levels of Bcl-2 and displayed a predominant CD45RA–CCR7+ central memory phenotype. However, cytokine and cytotoxic marker expression by these cells was more characteristic of effector memory cells.
Conclusions. Our findings suggest that boosting of BCG-primed CD4+ T cells with heterologous tuberculosis vaccines may be best after 14 weeks of age, once an established memory response has developed.
PMCID: PMC3583271  PMID: 23293360
Bacille Calmette-Guérin; Vaccination; Newborns; Memory T cells; T cell kinetics
11.  The Candidate TB Vaccine, MVA85A, Induces Highly Durable Th1 Responses 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e87340.
Vaccination against tuberculosis (TB) should provide long-term protective immunity against Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb). The current TB vaccine, Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG), protects against disseminated childhood TB, but protection against lung TB in adolescents and adults is variable and mostly poor. One potential reason for the limited durability of protection may be waning of immunity through gradual attrition of BCG-induced T cells. We determined if a MVA85A viral-vector boost could enhance the durability of mycobacteria-specific T cell responses above those induced by BCG alone.
We describe a long-term follow-up study of persons previously vaccinated with MVA85A. We performed a medical history and clinical examination, a tuberculin skin test and measured vaccine-specific T cell responses in persons previously enrolled as adults, adolescents, children or infants into three different Phase II trials, between 2005 and 2011.
Of 252 potential participants, 183 (72.6%) consented and completed the study visit. Vaccine-induced Ag85A-specific CD4+ T cell responses were remarkably persistent in healthy, HIV-uninfected adults, adolescents, children and infants, up to 6 years after MVA85A vaccination. Specific CD4+ T cells expressed surface markers consistent with either CD45RA−CCR7+ central memory or CD45RA−CCR7− effector memory T cells. Similarly durable Ag85A-specific CD4+ T cell responses were detected in HIV-infected persons who were on successful antiretroviral therapy when MVA85A was administered. By contrast, Ag85A-specific CD4+ T cell frequencies in untreated MVA85A-vaccinated HIV-infected persons were mostly undetectable 3–5 years after vaccination.
MVA85A induces remarkably durable T cell responses in immunocompetent persons. However, results from a recent phase IIb trial of MVA85A, conducted in infants from the same geographic area and study population, showed no vaccine efficacy, suggesting that these durable T cell responses do not enhance BCG-induced protection against TB in infants.
PMCID: PMC3911992  PMID: 24498312
12.  Relationship between chemokine receptor expression, chemokine levels and HIV-1 replication in the lungs of persons exposed to Mycobacterium tuberculosis 
European journal of immunology  2012;43(2):540-549.
Increased susceptibility to tuberculosis following HIV-1 seroconversion contributes significantly to the tuberculosis epidemic in sub-saharan Africa. Lung specific mechanisms underlying the interaction between HIV-1 and Mycobacterium (M.) tuberculosis infection are incompletely understood. This study addressed the effect of HIV-1 and latent M. tuberculosis infection on viral-entry receptors and ligands in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL). Median fluorescence intensity (MFI) of entry receptor expression was measured by multiparameter flow cytometry and chemokine expression by multiplex bead array.
Irrespective of HIV-1 status, BAL T-cells expressed higher MFI for the beta-chemokine receptor (CCR)5 than peripheral blood T-cells (p<0.001), in particular the CD8+ T-cells of HIV-1 infected persons showed elevated CCR5 expression (p=0.026). The concentration of BAL CCR5 ligands, regulated upon activation normal T-cell expressed and secreted (RANTES; p<0.001) and macrophage inflammatory protein (MIP)-1β (p=0.004) were elevated in the BAL of HIV-1 infected persons compared to controls. CCR5 expression and RANTES concentration correlated strongly with HIV-1 viral load in BAL. By contrast these alterations were not associated with M. tuberculosis sensitization in vivo nor did M. tuberculosis infection of BAL cells ex vivo change RANTES expression.
These data suggest ongoing HIV-1 replication predominantly drives local pulmonary CCR5+ T-cell activation in HIV/latent M. tuberculosis co-infection.
PMCID: PMC3791514  PMID: 23147374
BAL; CCR5; RANTES; TB; viral load
13.  Varicella Zoster Specific CD4+Foxp3+ T Cells Accumulate after Cutaneous Antigen Challenge in Humans 
We investigated the relationship between varicella zoster virus (VZV) specific memory CD4+ T cells and CD4+Foxp3+ regulatory T cells (Tregs) that accumulate after intradermal challenge with a VZV skin test antigen. VZV-specific CD4+ T cells were identified with a MHC class II tetramer or by intracellular staining for either IFN-γ or IL-2 after antigen re-challenge in vitro. VZV-specific T cells, mainly of a central memory (CD45RA−CD27+) phenotype, accumulate at the site of skin challenge compared to the blood of the same individuals. This resulted in part from local proliferation since >50% of tetramer defined antigen-specific CD4+ T cells in the skin expressed the cell cycle marker Ki67. CD4+Foxp3+ T cells had the characteristic phenotype of Tregs, namely CD25hiCD127loCD39hi in both unchallenged and VZV challenged skin and did not secrete IFN-γ or IL-2 after antigenic re-stimulation. The CD4+Foxp3+ T cells from unchallenged skin had suppressive activity, since their removal led to an increase in cytokine secretion after activation. After VZV antigen injection, Foxp3+CD25hiCD127loCD39hi T cells were also found within the VZV tetramer population. Their suppressive activity could not be directly assessed by CD25 depletion since activated T cells in the skin were also CD25+. Nevertheless there was an inverse correlation between decreased VZV skin responses and proportion of CD4+Foxp3+ T cells present indicating indirectly, their inhibitory activity in vivo. These results suggest a linkage between the expansion of antigen-specific CD4+ T cells and CD4+ Tregs that may provide controlled responsiveness during antigen-specific stimulation in tissues.
PMCID: PMC3552094  PMID: 23284056
14.  Infant HIV-1 Infection Severely Impairs the Bacille Calmette-Guerin Vaccine-Induced Immune Response1 
The Journal of infectious diseases  2009;199(7):982-990.
World-wide, most infants born to HIV-infected mothers receive BCG. Tuberculosis is a major cause of death of HIV-infected infants in sub-Saharan Africa, and should be prevented. However, BCG may itself cause disease (BCGosis) in these infants. Information regarding the immunogenicity of BCG is imperative for the risk/benefit assessment of BCG vaccination in HIV-infected infants; however, no such data exists.
We compared BCG-induced CD4 and CD8 T cell responses, assessed by flow cytometry, in HIV-infected (n = 20), HIV-exposed but uninfected (n = 25), and HIV-unexposed (n = 23) infants, over their first year of life.
BCG vaccination of the 2 HIV-uninfected groups induced a robust response, characterized by IFN-γ, TNF-α, and/or IL-2-expressing CD4 T cells. In contrast, HIV-infected infants had a markedly lower response, throughout the first year of life. These infants also had significantly reduced numbers of IFN-γ, TNF-α and IL-2 co-expressing polyfunctional CD4 T cells, thought to indicate T cell quality.
HIV-1 infection severely impairs the BCG-specific T cell response during the first year of life. BCG may therefore provide little, if any, vaccine-induced benefit in HIV-infected infants. Considering the significant risk of BCGosis, these data strongly support not giving BCG to HIV-infected infants.
PMCID: PMC2815505  PMID: 19236280
Tuberculosis; BCG; HIV; infants; T cells; immune response; polyfuntional; Th1; Th17
15.  Optimization of a whole blood intracellular cytokine assay for measuring innate cell responses to mycobacteria 
Journal of Immunological Methods  2011;376(1-2):79-88.
Innate cells are essential for host defense against invading pathogens, and the induction and direction of adaptive immune responses to infection. We developed and optimized a flow cytometric assay that allows measurement of intracellular cytokine expression by monocytes, dendritic cells (DC) and granulocytes, as well as cellular uptake of green-fluorescent protein (GFP)-expressing mycobacteria, in very small volumes of peripheral blood.
We show that innate cell stimulation resulted in increased granularity of monocytes and mDCs and decreased granulocyte granularity that precluded flow cytometric discernment of granulocytes from monocytes and myeloid DC by forward and side scatter gating. Anti-CD66a/c/e antibody staining allowed reliable identification and exclusion of granulocytes for subsequent delineation of monocytes and myeloid DC. Intracellular cytokine expression by granulocytes, monocytes and mDC was remarkably sensitive to the dose of mycobacterial inoculum. Moreover, activation of monocytes and mDCs with live BCG reduced expression levels of CD14 and CD11c, respectively, necessitating optimization of staining conditions to reliably measure these lineage markers. Finally, we characterized expression of IL-12/23p40, TNF-α, IL-6, and IL-10, by GFP+ and GFP− monocytes and mDC from 25 healthy adults.
This assay may be applied to the study of innate cell responses to any GFP-expressing pathogen, and can be performed on blood volumes as low as 200µL per condition, making the assay particularly suitable for pediatric studies.
PMCID: PMC3273614  PMID: 22155193
Mycobacteria; flow cytometry; monocytes; dendritic cells; granulocytes; innate cytokines
16.  Higher human CD4 T cell response to novel Mycobacterium tuberculosis latency associated antigens Rv2660 and Rv2659 in latent infection compared with tuberculosis disease 
Vaccine  2010;29(1):51-57.
One third of the world’s population is infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb). A vaccine that would prevent progression to TB disease will have a dramatic impact on the global TB burden. We propose that antigens of M.tb that are preferentially expressed during latent infection will be excellent candidates for post-exposure vaccination. We therefore assessed human T cell recognition of two such antigens, Rv2660 and Rv2659. Expression of these was shown to be associated with non-replicating persistence in vitro. After six days incubation of PBMC from persons with latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) and tuberculosis (TB) disease, Rv2660 and Rv2659 induced IFN-γ production in a greater proportion of persons with LTBI, compared with TB diseased patients. Persons with LTBI also had increased numbers of viable T cells, and greater specific CD4+ T cell proliferation and cytokine expression capacity. Persons with LTBI preferentially recognize Rv2659 and Rv2660, compared with patients with TB disease. These results suggest promise of these antigens for incorporation into post-exposure TB vaccines.
PMCID: PMC3376751  PMID: 20974305
Mycobacterium tuberculosis; LTBI; TB disease; latency antigens; post-infection vaccine
17.  Predominance of interleukin-22 over interleukin-17 at the site of disease in human tuberculosis 
Tuberculosis (Edinburgh, Scotland)  2011;91(6-3):587-593.
The inflammatory response to Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb) at the site of disease is Th1 driven. Whether the Th17 cytokines, IL-17 and IL-22, contribute to this response in humans is unknown. We hypothesized that IL-17 and IL-22 contribute to the inflammatory response in pleural and pericardial disease sites of human tuberculosis (TB).
We studied pleural and pericardial effusions, established TB disease sites, from HIV-uninfected TB patients. Levels of soluble cytokines were measured by ELISA and MMP-9 by luminex. Bronchoalveolar lavage or pericardial mycobacteria-specific T cell cytokine expression was analyzed by intracellular cytokine staining.
IL-17 was not abundant in pleural or pericardial fluid. IL-17 expression by mycobacteria-specific disease site T cells was not detected in healthy, M.tb-infected persons, or patients with TB pericarditis. These data do not support a major role for IL-17 at established TB disease sites in humans.
IL-22 was readily detected in fluid from both disease sites. These IL-22 levels exceeded matching peripheral blood levels. Further, IL-22 levels in pericardial fluid correlated positively with MMP-9, an enzyme known to degrade the pulmonary extracellular matrix. We propose that our findings support a role for IL-22 in TB-induced pathology or the resulting repair process.
PMCID: PMC3220762  PMID: 21767990
Pleural tuberculosis; Pericardial tuberculosis; IL-17; IL-22; Inflammation
18.  Identification of Antigens Specific to Non-Tuberculous Mycobacteria: The Mce Family of Proteins as a Target of T Cell Immune Responses 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e26434.
The lack of an effective TB vaccine hinders current efforts in combating the TB pandemic. One theory as to why BCG is less protective in tropical countries is that exposure to non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) reduces BCG efficacy. There are currently several new TB vaccines in clinical trials, and NTM exposure may also be relevant in this context. NTM exposure cannot be accurately evaluated in the absence of specific antigens; those which are known to be present in NTM and absent from M. tuberculosis and BCG. We therefore used a bioinformatic pipeline to define proteins which are present in common NTM and absent from the M. tuberculosis complex, using protein BLAST, TBLASTN and a short sequence protein BLAST to ensure the specificity of this process. We then assessed immune responses to these proteins, in healthy South Africans and in patients from the United Kingdom and United States with documented exposure to NTM. Low level responses were detected to a cluster of proteins from the mammalian cell entry family, and to a cluster of hypothetical proteins, using ex vivo ELISpot and a 6 day proliferation assay. These early findings may provide a basis for characterising exposure to NTM at a population level, which has applications in the field of TB vaccine design as well as in the development of diagnostic tests.
PMCID: PMC3201954  PMID: 22046285
19.  Specific T Cell Frequency and Cytokine Expression Profile Do Not Correlate with Protection against Tuberculosis after Bacillus Calmette-Guérin Vaccination of Newborns 
Rationale: Immunogenicity of new tuberculosis (TB) vaccines is commonly assessed by measuring the frequency and cytokine expression profile of T cells.
Objectives: We tested whether this outcome correlates with protection against childhood TB disease after newborn vaccination with bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG).
Methods: Whole blood from 10-week-old infants, routinely vaccinated with BCG at birth, was incubated with BCG for 12 hours, followed by cryopreservation for intracellular cytokine analysis. Infants were followed for 2 years to identify those who developed culture-positive TB—these infants were regarded as not protected against TB. Infants who did not develop TB disease despite exposure to TB in the household, and another group of randomly selected infants who were never evaluated for TB, were also identified—these groups were regarded as protected against TB. Cells from these groups were thawed, and CD4, CD8, and γδ T cell–specific expression of IFN-γ, TNF-α, IL-2, and IL-17 measured by flow cytometry.
Measurements and Main Results: A total of 5,662 infants were enrolled; 29 unprotected and two groups of 55 protected infants were identified. There was no difference in frequencies of BCG-specific CD4, CD8, and γδ T cells between the three groups of infants. Although BCG induced complex patterns of intracellular cytokine expression, there were no differences between protected and unprotected infants.
Conclusions: The frequency and cytokine profile of mycobacteria-specific T cells did not correlate with protection against TB. Critical components of immunity against Mycobacterium tuberculosis, such as CD4 T cell IFN-γ production, may not necessarily translate into immune correlates of protection against TB disease.
PMCID: PMC2970848  PMID: 20558627
mycobacteria immunity; pediatric settings
20.  MVA85A, a novel TB vaccine, is safe in adolescents and children, and induces complex subsets of polyfunctional CD4+ T cells 
European journal of immunology  2010;40(1):279-290.
MVA85A is a new tuberculosis vaccine aimed at enhancing immunity induced by BCG. We investigated the safety and immunogenicity of MVA85A in healthy adolescents and children from a tuberculosis endemic region, who received BCG at birth.
Twelve adolescents and 24 children were vaccinated and followed up for 12 or 6 months, respectively. Adverse events were documented and vaccine-induced immune responses assessed by IFN-γ ELISpot and intracellular cytokine staining.
The vaccine was well tolerated and there were no vaccine-related serious adverse events. MVA85A induced potent and durable T cell responses. Multiple CD4+ T cell subsets, based on expression of IFN-γ, TNF-α, IL-2, IL-17 and GM-CSF, were induced. Polyfunctional CD4+ T cells co-expressing IFN-γ, TNF-α and IL-2 dominated the response in both age groups. A novel CD4+ cell subset co-expressing these three Th1 cytokines and IL-17 was induced in adolescents, while a novel CD4+ T cell subset co-expressing Th1 cytokines and GM-CSF was induced in children. Antigen-specific CD8+ T cells were not detected.
We conclude that in adolescents and children MVA85A safely induces the type of immunity thought to be important in protection against tuberculosis. This includes induction of novel Th1 cell populations which have not been previously described in humans.
PMCID: PMC3044835  PMID: 20017188
MVA85A; tuberculosis; vaccine; polyfunctional; IL-17
21.  CD4 and CD8 T-Cell Responses to Mycobacterial Antigens in African Children 
Rationale: The current tuberculosis (TB) vaccine, bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG), does not provide adequate protection against TB disease in children. Furthermore, more efficacious TB vaccines are needed for children with immunodeficiencies such as HIV infection, who are at highest risk of disease.
Objectives: To characterize mycobacteria-specific T cells in children who might benefit from vaccination against TB, focusing on responses to antigens contained in novel TB vaccines.
Methods: Whole blood was collected from three groups of BCG-vaccinated children: HIV-seronegative children receiving TB treatment (n = 30), HIV-infected children (n = 30), and HIV-unexposed healthy children (n = 30). Blood was stimulated with Ag85B and TB10.4, or purified protein derivative, and T-cell cytokine production by CD4 and CD8 was determined by flow cytometry. The memory phenotype of antigen-specific CD4 and CD8 T cells was also determined.
Measurements and Main Results: Mycobacteria-specific CD4 and CD8 T-cell responses were detectable in all three groups of children. Children receiving TB treatment had significantly higher frequencies of antigen-specific CD4 T cells compared with HIV-infected children (P = 0.0176). No significant differences in magnitude, function, or phenotype of specific T cells were observed in HIV-infected children compared with healthy control subjects. CD4 T cells expressing IFN-γ, IL-2, or both expressed a CD45RA−CCR7−CD27+/− effector memory phenotype. Mycobacteria-specific CD8 T cells expressed mostly IFN-γ in all groups of children; these cells expressed CD45RA−CCR7−CD27+/− or CD45RA+CCR7−CD27+/− effector memory phenotypes.
Conclusions: Mycobacteria-specific T-cell responses could be demonstrated in all groups of children, suggesting that the responses could be boosted by new TB vaccines currently in clinical trials.
PMCID: PMC2902756  PMID: 20224065
pediatric; HIV-1; tuberculosis; vaccine; T cells
22.  Novel application of Ki67 to quantify antigen-specific in vitro lymphoproliferation 
Journal of Immunological Methods  2010;362(1-2):43-50.
Antigen-specific proliferation is a critical function of memory T cells that is often utilised to measure vaccine immunogenicity and T cell function. We proposed that measurement of intracellular expression of the nuclear protein, Ki67, could reliably assess specific T cell proliferation in vitro.
Ki67 was expressed in CD4+ and CD8+ T cells that had undergone in vitro proliferation after 6-day culture of human whole blood or PBMC with antigens. T cells cultured with no antigen did not express Ki67. When compared to current flow cytometry based proliferation assays, Ki67 detected proliferating cells with greater sensitivity than BrdU incorporation, whereas its sensitivity was similar to dye dilution of Oregon Green (OG), a CFSE derivative. Overall, the magnitude and cytokine expression profile of proliferating T cells detected by Ki67 expression correlated strongly with T cells detected with BrdU or OG. The intra-assay variability of Ki67 proliferation was 2–3% for CD4+ T cells, and 10–16% for CD8+ T cells. Finally, we demonstrate that the Ki67 assay detects tetanus toxoid-specific CD4+ T cell proliferation after infant vaccination with tetanus toxoid (TT).
Overall our data suggest that intracellular Ki67 expression provides a specific, quantitative and reproducible measure of antigen-specific T cell proliferation in vitro.
PMCID: PMC2989440  PMID: 20800066
PPD, purified protein derivative; TT, tetanus toxoid; OG, Oregon Green; Ki67; T cells; Cellular proliferation; Vaccine; Clinical immunology
23.  Delaying BCG vaccination from birth to 10 weeks of age may result in an enhanced memory CD4 T cell response 
Vaccine  2009;27(40):5488-5495.
In most tuberculosis (TB) endemic countries, bacillus Calmette Guérin (BCG) is usually given around birth to prevent severe TB in infants. The neonatal immune system is immature. Our hypothesis was that delaying BCG vaccination from birth to 10 weeks of age would enhance the vaccine-induced immune response.
In a randomized clinical trial, BCG was administered intradermally either at birth (n=25) or at 10 weeks of age (n=21). Ten weeks after vaccination, and at 1 year of age, vaccine-specific CD4 and CD8 T cell responses were measured with a whole blood intracellular cytokine assay.
Infants who received delayed BCG vaccination demonstrated higher frequencies of BCG-specific CD4 T cells, particularly polyfunctional T cells co-expressing IFN-γ, TNF-α and IL-2, and most strikingly at 1 year of age.
Delaying BCG vaccination from birth to 10 weeks of age enhances the quantitative and qualitative BCG-specific T cell response, when measured at one year of age.
PMCID: PMC2745558  PMID: 19616494
BCG; vaccination; birth; delayed; polyfunctional CD4 T cells
24.  HIV-1 Infection Impairs the Bronchoalveolar T-Cell Response to Mycobacteria 
Rationale: The risk of developing active tuberculosis in persons with latent Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection is substantially increased shortly after HIV-1 seroconversion. Immune responses in the lung are important to restrict the growth of M. tuberculosis to prevent the development of disease.
Objectives: To investigate innate and adaptive immune responses to M. tuberculosis in bronchoalveolar lavage from HIV-1–infected persons without active tuberculosis.
Methods: Peripheral blood was drawn and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) performed on healthy, HIV-1–uninfected (n = 21) and HIV-1–infected (n = 15) adults. Growth of M. tuberculosis was assessed in monocytes and alveolar macrophages. Cytokine expression by mycobacteria-specific CD4 and CD8 T cells was measured by intracellular cytokine staining or IFN-γ ELISpot.
Measurements and Main Results: Mycobacterial growth in monocytes or alveolar macrophages from HIV-1–infected and –uninfected persons did not differ. Total CD4 T-cell frequencies in BAL were lower in HIV-1–infected than in HIV-1–uninfected persons (P < 0.001). Mycobacteria (bacillus Calmette-Guérin)-specific CD4 T-cell responses in BAL were severely impaired: Frequencies of cells expressing IFN-γ or tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, as well as polyfunctional cells, expressing IFN-γ, TNF-α, and IL-2 together, were lower in HIV-1–infected persons than in uninfected controls (P < 0.01 for all).
Conclusions: In addition to a total CD4 T-cell deficit, the function of mycobacteria-specific CD4 T cells is significantly impaired in the lung of HIV-1–infected persons, which may account for the HIV-1–associated elevated risk for developing tuberculosis.
PMCID: PMC2796736  PMID: 19797156
HIV-1; tuberculosis; immunity mucosal; T-cells; macrophages
25.  Heterologous vaccination against human tuberculosis modulates antigen-specific CD4+ T-cell function 
European Journal of Immunology  2013;43(9):2409-2420.
Heterologous prime-boost strategies hold promise for vaccination against tuberculosis. However, the T-cell characteristics required for protection are not known. We proposed that boost vaccines should induce long-lived functional and phenotypic changes to T cells primed by Bacille Calmette Guerin (BCG) and/or natural exposure to mycobacteria. We characterized changes among specific CD4+ T cells after vaccination with the MVA85A vaccine in adults, adolescents, and children. CD4+ T cells identified with Ag85A peptide-bearing HLA class II tetramers were characterized by flow cytometry. We also measured proliferative potential and cytokine expression of Ag85A-specific CD4+ T cells. During the effector phase, MVA85A-induced specific CD4+ T cells coexpressed IFN-γ and IL-2, skin homing integrins, and the activation marker CD38. This was followed by contraction and a transition to predominantly IL-2-expressing, CD45RA−CCR7+CD27+ or CD45RA+CCR7+CD27+ specific CD4+ T cells. These surface phenotypes were similar to Ag85A-specific T cells prior to MVA85A. However, functional differences were observed postvaccination: specific proliferative capacity was markedly higher after 6–12 months than before vaccination. Our data suggest that MVA85A vaccination may modulate Ag85A-specific CD4+ T-cell function, resulting in greater recall potential. Importantly, surface phenotypes commonly used as proxies for memory T-cell function did not associate with functional effects of vaccination.
PMCID: PMC3816254  PMID: 23737382
HLA class II tetramer; MVA85A; Proliferation; T cells; Vaccine

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