FOXP3 gene expression in a tuberculosis case contact study.

Burl, S; Hill, PC; Jeffries, DJ; Holland, MJ; Fox, A; Lugos, MD; Adegbola, RA; Rook, GA; Zumla, A; McAdam, KP; Brookes, RH; (2007) FOXP3 gene expression in a tuberculosis case contact study. Clinical and experimental immunology, 149 (1). pp. 117-22. ISSN 0009-9104 DOI:

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Regulatory T lymphocytes (T(regs)) that express FOXP3 are involved in the beneficial attenuation of immunopathology, but are also implicated in down-regulation of protective responses to infection. Their role in tuberculosis (TB) is unknown. We classified 1272 healthy TB contacts according to their tuberculin skin test (TST) and interferon (IFN)-gamma enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT) results and 128 TB cases, and studied the expression of FOXP3 and interleukin (IL)-10 in blood samples. Compared to the uninfected contact group (TST(-), ELISPOT(-)), we observed higher levels of FOXP3 mRNA in blood from TB patients (< 0.001), but IL-10 expression was slightly lower (P = 0.04). In contrast, FOXP3 expression levels were significantly lower (P = 0.001) in the recently infected contacts (TST(+), ELISPOT(+)) but there was no difference for IL-10 (P = 0.74). We hypothesize that during early/subclinical TB, most of which will become latent, FOXP3(+) T(regs) may be sequestered in the lungs, but when TB becomes progressive, FOXP3 reappears at increased levels in the periphery. While these findings do not reveal the role, beneficial or harmful, of T(regs) in TB, they emphasize the probable importance of these cells.

Item Type: Article
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases > Dept of Clinical Research
PubMed ID: 17465993
Web of Science ID: 247113700016


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