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J Infect Dev Ctries. 2014 Jan 15;8(1):59-66. doi: 10.3855/jidc.3412.

Differential Early Secreted Antigen Target (ESAT) 6 kDa-induced IFN-γ and SOCS1 expression distinguishes latent and active tuberculosis.

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  • 1The Aga Khan University, P.O. Box 3500, Stadium Road, Karachi 74800, Pakistan. kiran.iqbal@aku.edu.



Expression of Suppressor of cytokine signaling (SOCS)-1 molecules is increased in patients with tuberculosis (TB). Early Secreted Antigen Target (ESAT)-6 kDa - induced IFN-γ responses indicate Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection. The effect of ESAT6- stimulation on SOCS1 in the host is not known.


Healthy asymptomatic controls had a negative (n = 16) or a positive ( n = 13) tuberculin skin test (TST). ESAT6-induced IFN-γ responses classified these controls as positive (EC ESAT6 IFN-γ (+), n = 5) or negative (EC ESAT6 IFN-γ (-), n = 24) responders. Patients had pulmonary (n = 21) or extra-pulmonary (n = 30) tuberculosis. Peripheral blood cells were stimulated with ESAT6 and mRNA expression of IFN-γ and SOCS1 was determined.


ESAT6-induced IFN-γ expression was raised in EC ESAT6 IFN-γ (+) as compared with EC ESAT6 IFN-γ (-), p = 0.019. ESAT6-induced SOCS1 mRNA expression was increased in both pulmonary TB and extra-pulmonary TB patients as compared with both EC groups. ESAT6-induced IFN-γ/SOCS1 mRNA expression ratio was decreased in TB patients as compared with both EC groups.


M. tuberculosis infection induces increased ESAT6-induced IFN-γ responses in both latent and active TB. Our data shows down-regulation of IFN-γ / SOCS1 expression to be induced only in active TB cases, distinguishing them from healthy individuals likely to have latent TB. A decreasing IFN-γ /SOCS1 ratio may leads to reduced Th1 immunity which contributes to inability of the host to control clinical disease.

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