Understanding the regulation of human immune responses is critical for vaccine development and treating infectious diseases. We have previously shown that simultaneous engagement of the T cell receptor (TCR) and complement regulator CD46 on human CD4+ T cells in the presence of interleukin-2 (IL-2) induces potent secretion of the immunomodulatory cytokine IL-10. These T cells mediate IL-10-dependent suppression of bystander CD4+ T cells activated in vitro with anti-CD3 and anti-CD28 costimulation, reflecting a T regulatory type 1 (Tr1)-like phenotype. However, CD46-mediated negative regulation of pathogen-specific T cells has not been described. Therefore, we studied the ability of CD46-activated human CD4+ T cells to suppress T cell responses to Mycobacterium bovis BCG, the live vaccine that provides infants protection against the major human pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Our results demonstrate that soluble factors secreted by CD46-activated human CD4+ T cells suppress mycobacterium-specific CD4+, CD8+, and γ9δ2 TCR+ T cells. Dendritic cell functions were not downregulated in our experiments, indicating that CD46-triggered factors directly suppress pathogen-specific T cells. Interestingly, IL-10 appeared to play a less pronounced role in our system, especially in the suppression of γ9δ2 TCR+ T cells, suggesting the presence of additional undiscovered soluble immunoregulatory factors. Blocking endogenous CD46 signaling 3 days after mycobacterial infection enhanced BCG-specific T cell responses in a subset of volunteers. Taken together, these results indicate that CD46-dependent negative regulatory mechanisms can impair T cell responses vital for immune defense against mycobacteria. Therefore, modulating CD46-induced immune regulation could be integral to the development of improved tuberculosis therapeutics or vaccines.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Infection and Inflammation Research (ZIEL)