Background: Due to immunologic immaturity, IFN-γ-producing T cell responses may be decreased in young children compared to adults, thus we hypothesized that IFN-γ responses to mycobacterial antigens in household contacts exposed to Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) would be impaired in young children relative to adults. The objective of this study was to compare whole blood IFN-γ production in response to mycobacterial antigens between children and adults in Uganda. Methodology/Principal Findings: We studied household contacts of persons with culture-positive pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) enrolled in a cohort study conducted in Kampala, Uganda. Whole blood IFN-γ production in response to Mtb culture-filtrate antigens was measured by ELISA and compared between infants (<2 years old, n=80), young children (2 <5 years old, n=216), older children (5 <15 years old, n= 443) and adults (≥15 years old, n=528). We evaluated the relationship between IFN-γ responses and the tuberculin skin test (TST), and between IFN-γ responses and epidemiologic factors that reflect exposure to Mtb, and the effect of prior BCG vaccination on IFN-γ responses. Young household contacts demonstrated robust IFN-γ responses comparable to those of adults that were associated with TST and known risk factors for infection. There was no effect of prior BCG immunization on the IFN-γ response. Conclusions/Significance: Young children in a TB endemic setting can mount robust IFN-γ responses generally comparable to those of adults, and as in adults, these responses correlated with the TST and known epidemiologic risk factors for Mtb infection.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)