Tuberculosis infection is a major complication of silicosis, but there is no study on whether silicosis can affect the sensitivity of QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-Tube (QFT-GIT) assays. This study will analyze the relationship between silicosis and QFT-GIT, determine the main factor of the QFT-GIT sensitivity decrease in silicosis and explore the methods to increase the sensitivity.
Silicosis patients with positive tubercle bacillus cultures were collected. The QFT-GIT, flow cytometry and blocking antibodies were used.
The sensitivity of QFT-GIT in silicosis patients (58.46%) was significantly decreased and the expression of PD-1 on T cells and CD56NK cells in pulmonary tuberculosis combined with silicosis were higher than normal tuberculosis patients and silicosis only patients. Further analysis found that the ratio of PD-1CD4T and IFN-γwere negatively correlated and blockaded the PD-1 pathway with antibodies can restore the sensitivity of QFT-GIT in silicosis.
This is the first study to analyze the relationship between immune exhaustion and QFT-GIT in silicosis and found that the sensitivity of QFT-GIT was decreased by the expression of PD-1 on lymphocytes. Antibody blocking experiments increased the expression of IFN-γ and provided a new method to improve the sensitivity of QFT in silicosis. The study also found that silicosis can increase PD-1 expression. As PD-1 functions in infectious diseases, it will promote immune exhaustion in silicosis and lead to tuberculosis from latent to active infection. The study provided theoretical evidence for the diagnosis and immunotherapy of silicosis complications, and it has great value in clinical diagnostics and treatment.

© 2022. The Author(s).