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Eur J Immunol. 2009 Dec;39(12):3369-84. doi: 10.1002/eji.200939615.

Combination of host susceptibility and Mycobacterium tuberculosis virulence define gene expression profile in the host.

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Department of Immunology, Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, Berlin, Germany.


Progression and outcome of tuberculosis is governed by extensive crosstalk between pathogen and host. Analyses of global changes in gene expression during immune response to infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb) can help identify molecular markers of disease state and progression. Global distribution of M.tb strains with different degrees of virulence and drug resistance, especially for the immunocompromised host, make closer analyses of host responses more pressing than ever. Here, we describe global transcriptional responses of inducible nitric oxide synthase-deficient (iNOS(-/-)) and WT mice infected with two related M.tb strains of markedly different virulence, namely the M.tb laboratory strains H37Rv and H37Ra. Both hosts exhibited highly similar resistance to infection with H37Ra. In contrast, iNOS(-/-) mice rapidly succumbed to H37Rv, whereas WT mice developed chronic course of disease. By differential analyses, virulence-specific changes in global host gene expression were analyzed to identify molecular markers characteristic for chronic versus acute infection. We identified several markers unique for different stages of disease progression and not previously associated with virulence-specific host responses in tuberculosis.

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