Induction and maintenance of a phenotypically heterogeneous lung tissue-resident CD4+ T cell population following BCG immunisation.
Bull NC., Kaveh DA., Garcia-Pelayo MC., Stylianou E., McShane H., Hogarth PJ.
Tuberculosis (TB) is the biggest cause of human mortality from an infectious disease. The only vaccine currently available, bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG), demonstrates some protection against disseminated disease in childhood but very variable efficacy against pulmonary disease in adults. A greater understanding of protective host immune responses is required in order to aid the development of improved vaccines. Tissue-resident memory T cells (TRM) are a recently-identified subset of T cells which may represent an important component of protective immunity to TB. Here, we demonstrate that intradermal BCG vaccination induces a population of antigen-specific CD4+ T cells within the lung parenchyma which persist for >12 months post-vaccination. Comprehensive flow cytometric analysis reveals this population is phenotypically and functionally heterogeneous, and shares characteristics with lung vascular and splenic CD4+ T cells. This underlines the importance of utilising the intravascular staining technique for definitive identification of tissue-resident T cells, and also suggests that these anatomically distinct cellular subsets are not necessarily permanently resident within a particular tissue compartment but can migrate between compartments. This lung parenchymal population merits further investigation as a critical component of a protective immune response against Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tb).