SARS-CoV-2 and latent Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection are both highly co-prevalent in many parts of the globe. Whether exposure to SARS-CoV-2 influences the antigen – specific immune responses in latent tuberculosis has not been investigated. We examined the baseline, mycobacterial antigen and mitogen induced cytokine and chemokine responses in latent tuberculosis (LTBI) individuals with or without SARS-CoV-2 seropositivity, LTBI negative with SARS-CoV-2 seropositivity and healthy controls (LTBI and SARS-CoV-2 negative). Our results demonstrated that LTBI individuals with SARS-CoV-2 seropositivity (LTBI+/IgG+) were associated with increased levels of unstimulated and TB-antigen stimulated IFNγ, IL-2, TNFα, IL-17, IL-1β, IL-6, IL-12, IL-4, CXCL1, CXCL9 and CXCL10 when compared to those without seropositivity (LTBI+/IgG-). In contrast, LTBI+/IgG+ individuals were associated with decreased levels of IL-5 and IL-10. No significant difference in the levels of cytokines/chemokines was observed upon mitogen stimulation between the groups. SARS-CoV-2 seropositivity was associated with enhanced unstimulated and TB-antigen stimulated but not mitogen stimulated production of cytokines and chemokines in LTBI+ compared to LTBI negative individuals. Finally, most of these significant differences were not observed when LTBI negative individuals with SARS-CoV-2 seropositivity and controls were examined. Our data clearly demonstrate that both baseline and TB – antigen induced cytokine responses are augmented in the presence of SARS-CoV-2 seropositivity, suggesting an augmenting effect of prior SARS-CoV-2 infection on the immune responses of LTBI individuals.
Available online 14 December 2021, 155785