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PLoS Pathog. 2011 May;7(5):e1002052. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1002052. Epub 2011 May 19.

A gamma interferon independent mechanism of CD4 T cell mediated control of M. tuberculosis infection in vivo.

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  • 1NIH/NIAID Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases, Bethesda, Maryland, United States of America.


CD4 T cell deficiency or defective IFNγ signaling render humans and mice highly susceptible to Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) infection. The prevailing model is that Th1 CD4 T cells produce IFNγ to activate bactericidal effector mechanisms of infected macrophages. Here we test this model by directly interrogating the effector functions of Th1 CD4 T cells required to control Mtb in vivo. While Th1 CD4 T cells specific for the Mtb antigen ESAT-6 restrict in vivo Mtb growth, this inhibition is independent of IFNγ or TNF and does not require the perforin or FAS effector pathways. Adoptive transfer of Th17 CD4 T cells specific for ESAT-6 partially inhibited Mtb growth while Th2 CD4 T cells were largely ineffective. These results imply a previously unrecognized IFNγ/TNF independent pathway that efficiently controls Mtb and suggest that optimization of this alternative effector function may provide new therapeutic avenues to combat Mtb through vaccination.

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