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Invariant Natural Killer T cell dynamics in HIV-associated tuberculosis

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posted on 08.01.2020 by Naomi F Walker, Charles Opondo, Graeme Meintjes, Nishta Jhilmeet, Jon S Friedland, Paul T Elkington, Robert J Wilkinson, Katalin A Wilkinson
RATIONALE: Tuberculosis (TB) is the leading cause of mortality and morbidity in people living with HIV infection. HIV-infected patients with TB disease are at risk of the paradoxical TB-associated immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (TB-IRIS) when they commence anti-retroviral therapy. However, the pathophysiology is incompletely understood and specific therapy is lacking. OBJECTIVES: We investigated the hypothesis that invariant Natural Killer T (iNKT) cells contribute to innate immune dysfunction associated with TB-IRIS. METHODS: In a cross-sectional study of 101 HIV-infected and -uninfected South African patients with active TB and controls, iNKT cells were enumerated using α-galactosylceramide-loaded CD1d tetramers and subsequently functionally characterised by flow cytometry. In a second study of 49 HIV-1-infected TB patients commencing anti-retroviral therapy, iNKT cells in TB-IRIS patients with non-IRIS controls were compared longitudinally. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Circulating iNKT cells were reduced in HIV-1 infection, most significantly the CD4+ subset, which was inversely associated with HIV-1 viral load. iNKT cells in HIV-associated TB had increased surface CD107a expression, indicating cytotoxic degranulation. Relatively increased iNKT cell frequency in HIV-infected patients with active TB was associated with development of TB-IRIS following anti-retroviral therapy initiation. iNKT cells in TB-IRIS were CD4+CD8- subset deplete and degranulated around the time of TB-IRIS onset. CONCLUSIONS: Reduced iNKT cell CD4+ subsets as a result of HIV-1 infection may skew iNKT cell functionality towards cytotoxicity. Increased CD4- cytotoxic iNKT cells may contribute to immunopathology in TB-IRIS.

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Crick (Grant ID: 10218, Grant title: Wilkinson, R FC001218)

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