Cellular immune response to common mycobacterial antigens in subjects seropositive for Trypanosoma cruzi.
The immune response is impaired in the silent stage of Chagas' disease. We used quadruple skin-testing with new tuberculins in 37 adults who were symptom-free but seropositive for Trypanosoma cruzi and in 37 matched seronegative controls. Whereas 19% of controls responded to common mycobacterial antigens, none of the Chagas' seropositive group responded to them (p < 0.006), demonstrating specificity in their unresponsiveness. The enhanced tuberculin reactivity after BCG vaccination in the control group was suppressed in seropositive subjects (p < 0.002). Selective loss of response to common mycobacterial antigens may have implications for the autoimmune pathology of Chagas' disease, and for susceptibility to tuberculosis, leprosy, and HIV disease.