The impact of Chagas disease (CD) in HIV-infected patients is relevant throughout the world. In fact, the characterization of the adaptive immune response in the context of co-infection is important for predicting the need for interventions in areas in which HIV and Chagas disease co-exist.
We described and compared the frequency of cytokine-producing T cells stimulated with soluble antigen of Trypanosoma cruzi (T. cruzi) using a cytometric assay for the following groups: individuals with chronic Chagas disease (CHR, n=10), those with Chagas disease and HIV infection (CO, n=11), those with only HIV (HIV, n=14) and healthy individuals (C, n=15).
We found 1) a constitutively lower frequency of IL-2+ and IFN-γ+ T cells in the CHR group compared with the HIV, CO and healthy groups; 2) a suppressive activity of soluble T. cruzi antigen, which down-regulated IL-2+CD4+ and IFN-γ+CD4+ phenotypes, notably in the healthy group; 3) a down-regulation of inflammatory cytokines on CD8+ T cells in the indeterminate form of Chagas disease; and 4) a significant increase in IL-10+CD8+ cells distinguishing the indeterminate form from the cardiac/digestive form of Chagas disease, even in the presence of HIV infection.
Taken together, our data suggest the presence of an immunoregulatory response in chronic Chagas disease, which seems to be driven by T. cruzi antigens. Our findings provide new insights into immunotherapeutic strategies for people living with HIV/AIDS and Chagas disease.