In vivo molecular dissection of the effects of HIV-1 in active tuberculosis

Author Summary HIV-1 infected people have substantially increased risk of tuberculosis (TB) leading to a large burden of disease worldwide. We aimed to investigate how HIV-1 causes this effect by altering human immune responses. We measured the products of all immune genes at injection sites of sterilized TB under the skin, in order to look for differences between TB patients with and without HIV-1. We found that the predominant effect of early HIV-1 infection was to diminish a component of immune responses that contributes to prevention of harmful inflammation. In more advanced HIV-1, we found almost complete absence of any immune response to TB except for immune activity which is normally part of our defence against viruses, but may also weaken immune protection against TB. In some patients, TB becomes apparent after starting treatment for HIV-1. In these patients we found that most immune responses had recovered to normal levels, but that one type of response sometimes associated with asthma and allergies was exaggerated. Our findings provide new insights into how HIV-1 can affect immune responses and changes to the immune system that are associated with risk of TB, which will inform the development of new strategies to improve protective immunity.