HLA-E-restricted CD8+ T lymphocytes efficiently control mycobacterium tuberculosis and HIV-1 coinfection

Marco Pio La Manna, Valentina Orlando, Teresa Prezzemolo, Paola Di Carlo, Antonio Cascio, Giovanni Delogu, Guido Poli, Lucy C. Sullivan, Andrew G. Brooks, Francesco Dieli, Nadia Caccamo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We investigated the contribution of human leukocyte antigen A2 (HLAA2) and HLA-E-restrictedCD8+ Tcells in patients withMycobacterium tuberculosis and human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1) coinfection. HIV-1 downregulatesHLA-A, -B, and -Cmolecules in infected cells, thus influencing recognition byHLAclass I-restrictedCD8+Tcells butnot by HLA-E-restricted CD8+ T cells, owing to the inability of the virus to downmodulate their expression. Therefore, antigen-specific HLAE- restricted CD8+ T cells could play a protective role in Mycobacterium tuberculosis and HIV-1 coinfection. HLA-E- and HLA-A2-restricted Mycobacterium tuberculosis-specific CD8+ T cells were tested in vitro for cytotoxic and microbicidal activities, and their frequencies and phenotypes were evaluated ex vivo in patients with active tuberculosis and concomitant HIV-1 infection. HIV-1 and Mycobacterium tuberculosis coinfection caused downmodulation of HLA-A2 expression in human monocyte-derived macrophages associated with resistance to lysis byHLA-A2-restricted CD8+ T cells and failure to restrict the growth of intracellular Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Conversely, HLA-E surface expression andHLA-E-restricted cytolytic and microbicidal CD8 responses were not affected. HLA-E-restricted and Mycobacterium tuberculosis-specific CD8+ T cells were expanded in the circulation of patients with Mycobacterium tuberculosis/HIV-1 coinfection, as measured by tetramer staining, but displayed a terminally differentiated and exhausted phenotype that was rescued in vitro by anti-PD-1 (programmed cell death protein 1) monoclonal antibody. Together, these results indicate that HLA-E-restricted and Mycobacterium tuberculosis-specific CD8+ T cells in patients with Mycobacterium tuberculosis/HIV-1 coinfection have an exhausted phenotype and fail to expand in vitro in response to antigen stimulation, which can be restored by blocking the PD-1 pathway using the specific monoclonal antibody nivolumab.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)430-439
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • CD8 T lymphocytes
  • HIV-1
  • HLA-E
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis
  • Tetramers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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