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Schweiz Med Wochenschr. 1995 Nov 11;125(45):2178-85.

Human host response to Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

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  • 1New York University Medical Center, Dept. of Medicine, Bellevue Hospital Chest Service, New York 10016, USA.


Despite the importance of tuberculosis as the leading cause of death due to infectious disease in the world, it has only been recently that an understanding of the human host response in this infection has begun to emerge. The key components of this response are cytokines and components of cellular immunity, predominantly T-lymphocytes and macrophages. Though the relationships among the components of the immune response are complex, it seems likely that in response to mycobacterial infection associated with active disease, cytokines such as TNF-alpha and IL-1 beta are produced; these cytokines serve to recruit more lymphocytes, generally of the T(H) (T helper) phenotype, which then produces substances such as the macrophage activating factor interferon-gamma. Macrophages activated by IFN-gamma ar thus stimulating to enhance intracellular killing of mycobacteria. The role of other cytokines, such as IL-6 and IL-8, both of which are induced by M. tuberculosis or its cell was components, is less clear. Further elucidation of the human host response to tuberculosis should help in the development of new vaccines and treatment strategies.

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