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J Infect Dis. 1993 Apr;167(4):857-64.

Transferrin, iron, and serum lipids enhance or inhibit Mycobacterium avium replication in human macrophages.

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Webb-Waring Lung Institute, Division of Immunology, University of Colorado School of Dentistry, Denver 80262.


Mycobacterium avium grows exponentially over 7 days in human macrophages when they are cultured in serumless medium. Normal serum inhibits this replication. When serum lipids were extracted using chloroform, the inhibitor was present in the lipid-free component. The lipid extract significantly enhanced M. avium replication. Iron (Fe2+) added at 8-80 micrograms/mL to infected macrophage cultures in serum resulted in enhanced mycobacterial replication. Serum-induced inhibition of bacterial growth in serumless medium could be duplicated with apotransferrin at 50-500 micrograms/mL. At 1000 micrograms/mL, apotransferrin no longer inhibited bacterial growth. Holotransferrin was not inhibitory, and at 500 micrograms/mL, it enhanced M. avium growth. Depletion of the transferrin in serum by affinity chromatography using goat anti-transferrin on protein G-Sepharose removed inhibitory activity. These results indicate that transferrin levels, transferrin saturation, iron levels, and serum lipids can profoundly alter the replication of M. avium in association with macrophages.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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