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Indian J Med Res. 2004 Oct;120(4):213-32.

Immunology of tuberculosis.

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Department of Immunology, Tuberculosis Research Centre (ICMR), Mayor V.R. Ramanathan Road, Chetput, Chennai 600-031, India.


Tuberculosis is a major health problem throughout the world causing large number of deaths, more than that from any other single infectious disease. The review attempts to summarize the information available on host immune response to Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Since the main route of entry of the causative agent is the respiratory route, alveolar macrophages are the important cell types, which combat the pathogen. Various aspects of macrophage-mycobacterium interactions and the role of macrophage in host response such as binding of M. tuberculosis to macrophages via surface receptors, phagosome-lysosome fusion, mycobacterial growth inhibition/killing through free radical based mechanisms such as reactive oxygen and nitrogen intermediates; cytokine-mediated mechanisms; recruitment of accessory immune cells for local inflammatory response and presentation of antigens to T cells for development of acquired immunity have been described. The role of macrophage apoptosis in containing the growth of the bacilli is also discussed. The role of other components of innate immune response such as natural resistance associated macrophage protein (Nramp), neutrophils, and natural killer cells has been discussed. The specific acquired immune response through CD4 T cells, mainly responsible for protective Th1 cytokines and through CD8 cells bringing about cytotoxicity, also has been described. The role of CD-1 restricted CD8(+) T cells and non-MHC restricted gamma/deltaT cells has been described although it is incompletely understood at the present time. Humoral immune response is seen though not implicated in protection. The value of cytokine therapy has also been reviewed. Influence of the host human leucocyte antigens (HLA) on the susceptibility to disease is discussed. Mycobacteria are endowed with mechanisms through which they can evade the onslaught of host defense response. These mechanisms are discussed including diminishing the ability of antigen presenting cells to present antigens to CD4(+) T cells; production of suppressive cytokines; escape from fused phagosomes and inducing T cell apoptosis. The review brings out the complexity of the host-pathogen interaction and underlines the importance of identifying the mechanisms involved in protection, in order to design vaccine strategies and find out surrogate markers to be measured as in vitro correlate of protective immunity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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