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Immunol Res. 2011 Aug;50(2-3):202-12. doi: 10.1007/s12026-011-8229-7.

Latent tuberculosis: what the host "sees"?

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Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, W1144 Biomedical Science Tower, Pittsburgh, PA 15261, USA.


Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB), the causative agent of tuberculosis (TB), is the most successful pathogen of mankind and remains a major threat to global health as the leading cause of death due to a bacterial pathogen. Yet 90-95% of those who are infected with MTB remain otherwise healthy. These people are classified as "latently infected," but remain a reservoir from which active TB cases will continue to develop ("reactivation tuberculosis"). Latent infection is defined by the absence of clinical symptoms of TB in addition to a delayed hypersensitivity reaction to the purified protein derivative of MTB used in tuberculin skin test or a T-cell response to MTB-specific antigens. In the absence of reliable control measures for tuberculosis, understanding latent MTB infection and subsequent reactivation is a research priority. This review aims to summarize the recent findings in human and non-human primate models of tuberculosis that have led to new concepts of latent tuberculosis.

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