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J Infect Dis. 2000 Mar;181(3):1194-7.

Increased production of interleukin 4 by CD4+ and CD8+ T cells from patients with tuberculosis is related to the presence of pulmonary cavities.

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Department of Medicine, University Hospital Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


In tuberculosis, cellular immunity is considered to be responsible for the eradication of infection but also for damage of host tissues. In animal models, the balance between Th1-type cytokines, especially interferon (IFN)-gamma, and Th2-type cytokines, primarily interleukin (IL)-4, seems crucial for these effects. Reports on Th1-type and Th2-type cytokines in human tuberculosis are conflicting, and little is known about their role in tissue damage. Flow-cytometric assessment of cytokine responses was performed in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-seronegative patients with active tuberculosis and in healthy controls. Patients and controls showed no significant difference in expression of IFN-gamma. However, patients showed a striking increase in production of IL-4 in CD4+ as well as CD8+ T cells. Most remarkably, the expression of IL-4 was especially elevated in patients with cavitary tuberculosis. The Th2-type response with increased production of IL-4 in patients with tuberculosis may antagonize host defense and lead to tissue necrosis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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