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Sci Transl Med. 2013 Jan 30;5(170):170ra13. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3004912.

CD271(+) bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells may provide a niche for dormant Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

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Division of Oncology, Departments of Medicine and Pathology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.


Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) can persist in hostile intracellular microenvironments evading immune cells and drug treatment. However, the protective cellular niches where Mtb persists remain unclear. We report that Mtb may maintain long-term intracellular viability in a human bone marrow (BM)-derived CD271(+)/CD45(-) mesenchymal stem cell (BM-MSC) population in vitro. We also report that Mtb resides in an equivalent population of BM-MSCs in a mouse model of dormant tuberculosis infection. Viable Mtb was detected in CD271(+)/CD45(-) BM-MSCs isolated from individuals who had successfully completed months of anti-Mtb drug treatment. These results suggest that CD271(+) BM-MSCs may provide a long-term protective intracellular niche in the host in which dormant Mtb can reside.

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