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Clin Exp Immunol. 1996 Nov;106(2):312-6.

Increase of tuberculous infection in the organs of B cell-deficient mice.

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MRC Clinical Sciences Centre, Hammersmith Hospital, London, UK.


Protective immunity against infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis is imparted by T cells rather than antibodies, but B cells can play a role as antigen-presenting cells and in granuloma formation. We re-evaluated the role of B cells in the course of tuberculous infection in mu-chain knock-out (Ig-) mice. Surprisingly, the organs of M. tuberculosis-infected Ig- mice were found to have three- to eight-fold elevated counts of viable bacilli compared with normal littermates at 3-6 weeks post-infection. Splenic interferon-gamma responses to whole antigen were unimpaired, whilst proliferation to certain mycobacterial peptides was found to be diminished. However, bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination significantly reduced the infection in Ig- mice. The mechanisms by which B cells can influence primary tuberculous infection need further study.

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