T cell-derived IL-10 impairs host resistance to Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection

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Tuberculosis (TB), caused by infection, is a leading cause of mortality and morbidity, causing ∼1.5 million deaths annually. CD4 T cells and several cytokines, such as the Th1 cytokine IFN-γ, are critical in the control of this infection. Conversely, the immunosuppressive cytokine IL-10 has been shown to dampen Th1 cell responses to infection impairing bacterial clearance. However, the critical cellular source of IL-10 during infection is still unknown. Using IL-10 reporter mice, we show in this article that during the first 14 d of infection, the predominant cells expressing IL-10 in the lung were Ly6C monocytes. However, after day 21 postinfection, IL-10-expressing T cells were also highly represented. Notably, mice deficient in T cell-derived IL-10, but not mice deficient in monocyte-derived IL-10, showed a significant reduction in lung bacterial loads during chronic infection compared with fully IL-10-competent mice, indicating a major role for T cell-derived IL-10 in TB susceptibility. IL-10-expressing cells were detected among both CD4 and CD8 T cells, expressed high levels of CD44 and Tbet, and were able to coproduce IFN-γ and IL-10 upon ex vivo stimulation. Furthermore, during infection, expression in CD4 T cells was partially regulated by both IL-27 and type I IFN signaling. Together, our data reveal that, despite the multiple immune sources of IL-10 during infection, activated effector T cells are the major source accounting for IL-10-induced TB susceptibility.

Journal details

Volume 199
Issue number 2
Pages 613-623
Available online
Publication date