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Yonsei Med J. 2009 Feb 28;50(1):1-11. doi: 10.3349/ymj.2009.50.1.1. Epub 2009 Feb 24.

Macrophage apoptosis in tuberculosis.

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Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA 01655, USA.


Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) is an intracellular pathogen that infects alveolar macrophages following aerosol transmission. Lung macrophages provide a critical intracellular niche that is required for Mtb to establish infection in the human host. This parasitic relationship is made possible by the capacity of Mtb to block phagosome maturation following entry into the host macrophage, creating an environment that supports bacillary replication. Apoptosis is increasingly understood to play a role in host defense against intracellular pathogens including viruses, fungi, protozoa and bacteria. In the last 15 years an understanding of the role that macrophage apoptosis plays in TB has begun to emerge. Here we review the history and current state of the art of this topic and we offer a model of the macrophage-pathogen interaction that takes into the account the complexities of programmed cell death and the relationship between various death signaling pathways and host defense in TB.


Tuberculosis; apoptosis; host defense; macrophage; mycobacterium

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