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Free Content Interferon-gamma responses to ESAT-6 in tuberculosis patients early into and after anti-tuberculosis treatment

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OBJECTIVE: To investigate T-cell responses to ESAT-6 by an interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) ex vivo enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISpot) assay in tuberculosis (TB) patients early during treatment and in patients who have completed a course of anti-tuberculosis chemotherapy.

DESIGN: T-cell responses following overnight stimulation with 6-kD early secretory antigenic target (ESAT-6) antigen were compared to responses obtained using cells cultured with ESAT-6 for 6 days, using an ELISpot assay.

RESULTS: In the ex vivo ELISpot assay, the median IFN-γ responses in TB patients, irrespective of treatment status, were significantly higher than in healthy BCG-vaccinated controls. In the 6-day ELISpot assay, median IFN-γ responses were significantly higher in TB patients who had completed treatment than in patients early during therapy. There was considerable individual variability in the degree of expansion of ESAT-6 specific T-cells from day 1 to day 6 in both treatment groups.

CONCLUSION: Further studies are required to assess which type of assay provides the best indicator of a memory T-cell response and how ESAT-6 specific T-cells relate to protective immunity in TB infection.

Keywords: ELISpot; ESAT-6; interferon-gamma; tuberculosis

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Immunology Unit, Department of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom 2: Department of Respiratory Medicine, Homerton Hospital, London, United Kingdom 3: TB Research Group, Veterinary Laboratories Agency, Addlestone, Surrey, United Kingdom

Publication date: 2005-09-01

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  • The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease publishes articles on all aspects of lung health, including public health-related issues such as training programmes, cost-benefit analysis, legislation, epidemiology, intervention studies and health systems research. The IJTLD is dedicated to the continuing education of physicians and health personnel and the dissemination of information on tuberculosis and lung health world-wide.

    Certain IJTLD articles are selected for translation into French, Spanish, Chinese or Russian. They are available on the Union website

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