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Microbiology. 2002 Jul;148(Pt 7):1991-8.

Influence of trehalose 6,6'-dimycolate (TDM) during mycobacterial infection of bone marrow macrophages.

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Department of Pathology, Program in Molecular Pathology, University of Texas-Houston Medical School, MSB 2.214, 6431 Fannin, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


The relative role of surface lipids in the innate macrophage response to infection with mycobacteria remains unknown. Trehalose 6,6'-dimycolate (TDM), a major component of the mycobacterial cell wall, can elicit hypersensitive as well as T-cell-independent foreign body responses. The T-cell-independent contribution of TDM to the primary macrophage response to mycobacterial infection was investigated. Bone-marrow-derived macrophages isolated from C57BL/6 mice were infected with native Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) or with MTB delipidated using petroleum ether extraction methods. The removal of surface lipids caused decreased bacterial survival in macrophages, but there was no loss of bacterial growth in broth culture. Bacterial survival within macrophages was restored upon reconstitution of the bacteria with purified TDM. The cytokine and chemokine parameters of the macrophage responses were also investigated. The amounts of IL-1beta, TNF-alpha, IL-6 and MIP-1alpha produced were significantly reduced following delipidation, but were restored upon reconstitution with TDM. The amount of IL-12 produced, but not the amount of IL-10 produced, was also significantly reduced upon macrophage infection with delipidated MTB. Furthermore, nitric oxide responses were not impaired upon infection with delipidated MTB, suggesting that intracellular survival and macrophage secretion of cytokines and chemokines are differentially controlled. These studies indicate that TDM is a major component contributing to the innate macrophage responses to MTB infection.

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