Antigen specificity and cross-reactivity drive functionally diverse anti-Aspergillus fumigatus T cell responses in cystic fibrosis


BACKGROUND. The fungus Aspergillus fumigatus causes a variety of clinical phenotypes in patients with cystic fibrosis (pwCF). T-helper (Th) cells orchestrate immune responses against fungi, but the types of A. fumigatus-specific Th-cells in pwCF and their contribution to protective immunity or inflammation remain poorly characterized. METHODS. We used antigen-reactive T cell enrichment (ARTE) to investigate fungus-reactive Th cells in peripheral blood of pwCF and healthy controls. RESULTS. We show that clonally expanded, high-avidity A. fumigatus-specific effector Th-cells develop in pwCF, which are absent in healthy donors. Individual patients were characterized by distinct Th1, Th2, or Th17 dominated responses that remained stable over years. These different Th subsets target different A. fumigatus proteins, indicating that differential antigen uptake and presentation directs Th-cell subset development. Patients with allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA) are characterized by high frequencies of Th2-cells that cross-recognize various filamentous fungi. CONCLUSION. Our data highlight the development of heterogenous Th responses targeting different protein fractions of a single fungal pathogen and identify the development of multispecies cross-reactive Th2-cells as a potential risk factor for ABPA.

Journal of Clinical Investigation,