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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2012 Mar 19;367(1590):850-9. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2011.0316.

Host-pathogen coevolution in human tuberculosis.

Author information

  • Department of Medical Parasitology and Infection Biology, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute and University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland. sebastien.gagneux@unibas.ch

Abstract

Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease of antiquity. Yet TB today still causes more adult deaths than any other single infectious disease. Recent studies show that contrary to the common view postulating an animal origin for TB, Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTBC), the causative agent of TB, emerged as a human pathogen in Africa and colonized the world accompanying the Out-of-Africa migrations of modern humans. More recently, evolutionarily 'modern' lineages of MTBC expanded as a consequence of the global human population increase, and spread throughout the world following waves of exploration, trade and conquest. While epidemiological data suggest that the different phylogenetic lineages of MTBC might have adapted to different human populations, overall, the phylogenetically 'modern' MTBC lineages are more successful in terms of their geographical spread compared with the 'ancient' lineages. Interestingly, the global success of 'modern' MTBC correlates with a hypo-inflammatory phenotype in macrophages, possibly reflecting higher virulence, and a shorter latency in humans. Finally, various human genetic variants have been associated with different MTBC lineages, suggesting an interaction between human genetic diversity and MTBC variation. In summary, the biology and the epidemiology of human TB have been shaped by the long-standing association between MTBC and its human host.

PMID:
22312052
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3267123
Free PMC Article

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