Differences in plasma proteomes for active tuberculosis, latent tuberculosis and non-tuberculosis mycobacterial lung disease patients with and without ESAT-6/CFP10 stimulation

Takele Teklu, Biniam Wondale, Biruhalem Taye, Milkessa Hailemariam, Shiferaw Bekele, Mesfin Tamirat, Aboma Zewude, Temesgen Mohamed, Girmay Medhin, Mengistu Legesse, Yanbao Yu, Gobena Ameni, Rembert Pieper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the world’s most problematic infectious diseases. The pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) is contained by the immune system in people with latent TB infection (LTBI). No overt disease symptoms occur. The environmental and internal triggers leading to reactivation of TB are not well understood. Non-tuberculosis Mycobacteria (NTM) can also cause TB-like lung disease. Comparative analysis of blood plasma proteomes from subjects afflicted by these pathologies in an endemic setting may yield new differentiating biomarkers and insights into inflammatory and immunological responses to Mtb and NTM. Methods: Blood samples from 40 human subjects in a pastoral region of Ethiopia were treated with the ESAT-6/CFP-10 antigen cocktail to stimulate anti-Mtb and anti-NTM immune responses. In addition to those of active TB, LTBI, and NTM cohorts, samples from matched healthy control (HC) subjects were available. Following the generation of sample pools, proteomes were analyzed via LC-MS/MS. These experiments were also performed without antigen stimulation steps. Statistically significant differences using the Z-score method were determined and interpreted in the context of the proteins’ functions and their contributions to biological pathways. Results: More than 200 proteins were identified from unstimulated and stimulated plasma samples (UPSs and SPSs, respectively). Thirty-four and 64 proteins were differentially abundant with statistical significance (P < 0.05; Benjamini-Hochberg correction with an FDR < 0.05) comparing UPS and SPS proteomic data of four groups, respectively. Bioinformatics analysis of such proteins via the Gene Ontology Resource was indicative of changes in cellular and metabolic processes, responses to stimuli, and biological regulations. The m7GpppN-mRNA hydrolase was increased in abundance in the LTBI group compared to HC subjects. Charged multivesicular body protein 4a and platelet factor-4 were increased in abundance in NTM as compared to HC and decreased in abundance in NTM as compared to active TB. C-reactive protein, α-1-acid glycoprotein 1, sialic acid-binding Ig-like lectin 16, and vitamin K-dependent protein S were also increased (P < 0.05; fold changes≥2) in SPSs and UPSs comparing active TB with LTBI and NTM cases. These three proteins, connected in a STRING functional network, contribute to the acute phase response and influence blood coagulation. Conclusion: Plasma proteomes are different comparing LTBI, TB, NTM and HC cohorts. The changes are augmented following prior blood immune cell stimulation with the ESAT-6/CFP-10 antigen cocktail. The results encourage larger-cohort studies to identify specific biomarkers to diagnose NTM infection, LTBI, and to predict the risk of TB reactivation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number10
JournalProteome Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2020


  • Blood plasma
  • ESAT-6/CFP-10 antigen cocktail
  • LC-MS/MS
  • MTBC
  • NTM
  • Protein biomarker
  • Proteomics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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