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Clin Diagn Lab Immunol. 1997 Jan;4(1):49-56.

Human humoral responses to antigens of Mycobacterium tuberculosis: immunodominance of high-molecular-mass antigens.

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Department of Pathology, New York University Medical Center, New York 10016, USA.


The selection of antigens of Mycobacterium tuberculosis for most studies of humoral responses in tuberculosis patients has been restricted to molecules that were either immunodominant in immunized animals or amenable to biochemical purification rather than those that were reactive with the human immune system. Delineation of antigens that elicit humoral responses during the natural course of disease progression in humans has been hindered by the presence of cross-reactive antibodies to conserved regions on ubiquitous prokaryotic antigens in sera from healthy individuals and tuberculosis patients. The levels of cross-reactive antibodies in the sera were reduced by preadsorption with Escherichia coli lysates, prior to studying their reactivity against a large panel of M. tuberculosis antigens to which the human immune system may be exposed during natural infection and disease. Thus, reactivity against pools of secreted, cellular, and cell wall-associated antigens of M. tuberculosis was assessed by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Initial results suggested that the secreted protein preparation contained antigens most frequently recognized by the humoral responses of pulmonary tuberculosis patients. The culture filtrate proteins were subsequently size fractionated by preparative polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, characterized by reaction with murine monoclonal antibodies to known antigens of M. tuberculosis by an ELISA, and assessed for reactivity with tuberculous and nontuberculous sera. Results show that a secreted antigen of 88 kDa elicits a strong antibody response in a high percentage of patients with pulmonary tuberculosis. This and other antigens identified on the basis of their reactivity with patient sera may prove useful for developing serodiagnosis for tuberculosis.

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