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J Immunol. 2002 May 1;168(9):4620-7.

TNF regulates chemokine induction essential for cell recruitment, granuloma formation, and clearance of mycobacterial infection.

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Centenary Institute of Cancer Medicine and Cell Biology, Newton, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.


Host immunity to mycobacterial infection is dependent on the activation of T lymphocytes and their recruitment with monocytes to form granulomas. These discrete foci of activated macrophages and lymphocytes provide a microenvironment for containing the infection. The cytokine, TNF, is essential for the formation and maintenance of granulomas, but the mechanisms by which TNF regulates these processes are unclear. We have compared the responses of TNF-deficient (TNF(-/-)) and wild-type C57BL/6 mice to infection with Mycobacterium smegmatis, a potent inducer of TNF, and virulent Mycobacterium tuberculosis to delineate the TNF-dependent and -independent components of the process. The initial clearance of M. smegmatis was TNF independent, but TNF was required for the early expression of mRNA encoding C-C and C-X-C chemokines and the initial recruitment of CD11b(+) macrophages and CD4(+) T cells to the liver during the second week of infection. Late chemokine expression and cell recruitment developed in TNF(-/-) mice associated with enhanced Th1-like T cell responses and mycobacterial clearance, but recruited leukocytes did not form tight granulomas. Infection of TNF(-/-) mice with M. tuberculosis also resulted in an initial delay in chemokine induction and cellular recruitment to the liver. Subsequently, increased mRNA expression was evident in TNF(-/-) mice, but the loosely associated lymphocytes and macrophages failed to form granulomas and prevent progressive infection. Therefore, TNF orchestrates early induction of chemokines and initial leukocyte recruitment, but has an additional role in the aggregation of leukocytes into functional granulomas capable of controlling virulent mycobacterial infection.

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