HIV-1 and TB coinfection skews the SARS-CoV-2 T cell response


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SARS-CoV-2 causes COVID-19 disease, it is known that T cells in the control of disease progression, however little is known about antigen-specific T cell response and disease severity.

Researchers at the University of Cape Town, South Africa studied 95 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, 38 of which were HIV-1 and/or tuberculosis (TB) coinfected, and 38 non–COVID-19 patients. They used flow cytometry to “assess the magnitude, function, and phenotype of SARS coronavirus 2–specific (SARS-CoV-2–specific) CD4+ T cells”.

Riou et al, found that SARS-CoV-2–specific CD4+ T cell attributes, not magnitude was associated with severe disease. Severe disease was characterized by “poor polyfunctional potential, reduced proliferation capacity, and enhanced HLA-DR expression”.

HIV-1 and TB co-infection skews the SARS-CoV-2 T cell response. “HIV-1 mediated CD4+ T cell depletion associated with suboptimal T cell and antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2 and a decrease in the polyfunctional capacity of SARS-CoV-2-specific CD4 T cells was observed in COVID-19 patients with active TB”.  These results reinforce the crucial role of SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells in COVID-19 disease development and support the concept of altered T cell functions in patients with severe disease.

The researchers also found that “COVID-19 patients displayed reduced frequency of Mycobacterium tuberculosis–specific CD4 T cells”. These results could have implications in TB-endemic countries such as South Africa as concerns have been raised that COVID-19 could reactivate latent TB.

 

Graphical Abstract – Relationship of SARS-CoV-2–specific CD4 response to COVID-19 severity and impact of HIV-1 and tuberculosis coinfection. (Source: Riou et al, 2021)

 

 

Find out more about HIV and TB – Immunity to HIV & Immunity to TB

Journal Article: Riou et al. 2021 Relationship of SARS-CoV-2–specific CD4 response to COVID-19 severity and impact of HIV-1 and tuberculosis coinfection. J Clin Invest.

Summary by Bonamy Holtak

Animation produced by Simone Richardson., PhD

 
 
 
 
 
 
International Union of Immunological SocietiesUniversity of South AfricaInstitute of Infectious Disease and Molecular MedicineElizabeth Glazer Pediatric Aids FoundationStellenbosch University