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Tuberculosis (Edinb). 2002;82(2-3):97-104.

Mycobacterial infection in natural killer T cell knockout mice.

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Department of Molecular Pathology, The Research Institute of Tuberculosis, 3-1-24 Matsuyama, Kiyose, Tokyo 204-0022, Japan.


To gain a better understanding of the pathological role of natural killer (NK) T cells in murine tuberculosis, NKT knockout (KO) mice (J(alpha)281(-/-)mice) were utilized. Eight-week-old NKT KO mice of BALB/c origin and wild-type (WT) mice were infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis Kurono strain by the airborne route using an airborne infection apparatus, and their capacity to control mycobacterial growth, granuloma formation, and cytokine production were examined. The NKT KO mice developed granulomatous lesions in the lungs; there was no statistically significant difference in pulmonary granuloma size between NKT KO and WT mice (p<0.01). The average CFU values increased 3 weeks post-infection, but decreased 9 and 11 weeks post-infection, in the lungs of NKT KO mice. When stimulated with Kurono strain in vitro, splenic cells from NKT KO mice produced less IFN-gamma than did those from WT mice. Expression of mRNA for IL-2, IL-4, IL-6, IL-10 and IL-12 p40 was slightly lower in NKT KO mice compared with WT mice. Our data indicate that NKT cells play a detrimental role in late-phase mycobacterial infection, although Th1 cells are essential in early-phase mycobacterial infection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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