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Infect Immun. 2004 May;72(5):2628-34.

Down-modulation of lung immune responses by interleukin-10 and transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) and analysis of TGF-beta receptors I and II in active tuberculosis.

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  • 1Instituto de Pesquisas, Clinica Evandro Chagas, Serviço de Immulogia, FIOCRUZ, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


Immune factors influencing progression to active tuberculosis (TB) remain poorly defined. In this study, we investigated the expression of immunoregulatory cytokines and receptors by using lung bronchoalveolar lavage cells obtained from patients with pulmonary TB, patients with other lung diseases (OLD patients), and healthy volunteers (VOL) by using reverse transcriptase PCR, a transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) bioactivity assay, and an enzyme immunoassay. TB patients were significantly more likely than OLD patients to coexpress TGF-beta receptor I (RI) and RII mRNA, as well as interleukin-10 (IL-10) mRNA (thereby indicating the state of active gene transcription in the alveolar cells at harvest). In contrast, gamma interferon (IFN-gamma) and IL-2 mRNA was seen in both TB and OLD patients. Likewise, significantly elevated pulmonary steady-state protein levels of IL-10, IFN-gamma, and bioactive TGF-beta were found in TB patients versus those in OLD patients and VOL. These data suggest that the combined production of the immunosuppressants IL-10 and TGF-beta, as well as coexpression of TGF-beta RI and RII (required for cellular response to TGF-beta), may act to down-modulate host anti-Mycobacterium tuberculosis immunity and thereby allow uncontrolled bacterial replication and overt disease. Delineating the underlying mechanisms of M. tuberculosis-triggered expression of these immune elements may provide a molecular-level understanding of TB immunopathogenesis.

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