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Microbiol Spectr. 2016 Oct;4(5). doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.TBTB2-0018-2016.

Cytokines and Chemokines in Mycobacterium tuberculosis Infection.

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Department of Molecular Microbiology, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO 63130.
Department of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation, University of Leicester, Leicester LE1 7RH, United Kingdom.


Chemokines and cytokines are critical for initiating and coordinating the organized and sequential recruitment and activation of cells into Mycobacterium tuberculosis-infected lungs. Correct mononuclear cellular recruitment and localization are essential to ensure control of bacterial growth without the development of diffuse and damaging granulocytic inflammation. An important block to our understanding of TB pathogenesis lies in dissecting the critical aspects of the cytokine/chemokine interplay in light of the conditional role these molecules play throughout infection and disease development. Much of the data highlighted in this review appears at first glance to be contradictory, but it is the balance between the cytokines and chemokines that is critical, and the "goldilocks" (not too much and not too little) phenomenon is paramount in any discussion of the role of these molecules in TB. Determination of how the key chemokines/cytokines and their receptors are balanced and how the loss of that balance can promote disease is vital to understanding TB pathogenesis and to identifying novel therapies for effective eradication of this disease.

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