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Clin Exp Immunol. 2000 Aug;121(2):302-10.

Comparative roles of free fatty acids with reactive nitrogen intermediates and reactive oxygen intermediates in expression of the anti-microbial activity of macrophages against Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology and Department of Dermatology, Shimane Medical University, Izumo, Shimane, Japan.


We assessed the role of free fatty acids (FFA) in the expression of the activity of macrophages against Mycobacterium tuberculosis in relation to the roles of two major anti-microbial effectors, reactive nitrogen intermediates (RNI) and reactive oxygen intermediates (ROI). Intracellular growth of M. tuberculosis residing inside macrophages was accelerated by treatments of macrophages with either quinacrine (phospholipase A2 (PLA2) inhibitor), arachidonyl trifuloromethylketone (type IV cytosolic PLA2 inhibitor), NG-monomethyl-L-arginine (nitric oxide synthase inhibitor), and superoxide dismutase plus catalase (ROI scavengers). In addition, M. tuberculosis-infected macrophages produced and/or secreted these effectors sequentially in the order ROI (0-3 h), FFA (0-48 h), and RNI (3 to at least 72 h). Notably, membranous FFA (arachidonic acid) of macrophages translocated to M. tuberculosis residing in the phagosomes of macrophages in phagocytic ability- and PLA2-dependent fashions during cultivation after M. tuberculosis infection. FFA, RNI and H2O2-mediated halogenation system (H2O2-halogenation system) displayed strong activity against M. tuberculosis in cell-free systems, while ROI alone exerted no such effects. Combinations of 'FFA + RNI' and 'RNI + H2O2-halogenation system' exhibited synergistic and additive effects against M. tuberculosis, respectively, while 'FFA + H2O2-halogenation system' had an antagonistic effect. Moreover, a sequential attack of FFA followed by RNI exerted synergistic activity against M. tuberculosis. Since M. tuberculosis-infected macrophages showed simultaneous production of RNI with FFA secretion for relatively long periods (approx. 45 h) and prolonged RNI production was seen thereafter, RNI in combination with FFA appear to play critical roles in the manifestation of the activity of macrophages against M. tuberculosis.

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