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Immunobiology. 1993 Nov;189(3-4):316-39.

Role of cytokines in tuberculosis.

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Department of Immunology, University of Ulm, Germany.


Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Mycobacterium bovis are facultative intracellular pathogens which preferentially utilize the macrophage as their host cell. Acquired resistance against mycobacteria depends on T cells which activate antimicrobial macrophage functions via the release of cytokines. The data summarized below suggest an important role for interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) as well as the B cell-stimulatory factors interleukin-4 (IL-4) and IL-6 in the induction of tuberculostatic macrophage functions. Growth inhibition of mycobacteria by cytokine-stimulated macrophages is mediated by reactive nitrogen intermediates (RNI) derived from L-arginine. Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and IL-10 act as autocrine regulators in the induction of the enzyme NO-synthase. Both cytokines are produced by macrophages stimulated with IFN-gamma and infected with M. bovis. While TNF-alpha mediates activation of the NO-synthase and production of RNI, IL-10 suppresses this enzyme activity. The outcome of mycobacterial infection is probably regulated by a complex network between stimulatory and inhibitory cytokines.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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