Tuberculosis (TB) remains a threat to the health of people worldwide. Infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis can result in active TB or, more commonly, latent infection. Latently infected persons, of which there are estimated to be ~2 billion in the world, represent an enormous reservoir of potential reactivation TB, which can spread to other people. The immunology of TB is complex and multifaceted. Identifying the immune mechanisms that lead to control of initial infection and prevent reactivation of latent infection is crucial to combating this disease.
Understanding the early immunologic events accompanying reactivated tuberculosis (TB) in HIV-infected individuals may yield insight into causes of reactivation and improve treatment modalities. We used the cynomolgus macaque (Macaca fascicularis) model of HIV–Mycobacterium tuberculosis coinfection to investigate the dynamics of multifunctional T cell responses and granuloma T cell phenotypes in reactivated TB. CD4+ and CD8+ T cells expressing Th1 cytokines (IFN-γ, IL-2, TNF) and Th2 cytokines (IL-4 and IL-10) were followed from latent M. tuberculosis infection to reactivation after coinfection with a pathogenic SIV. Coinfected animals experienced increased Th1 cytokine responses to M. tuberculosis Ags above the latent-response baseline 3–5 wk post-SIV infection that corresponded with peak plasma viremia. Th2 cytokine expression was not Ag specific, but strong, transient IL-4 expression was noted 4–7 wk post-SIV infection. Animals reactivating <17 wk post-SIV infection had significantly more multifunctional CD4+ T cells 3–5 wk post-SIV infection and more Th2-polarized and fewer Th0-, Th1-polarized CD8+ T cells during weeks 1–10 post-SIV infection than animals reactivating >26 wk post-SIV infection. Granuloma T cells included Th0-, Th1-, and Th2-polarized phenotypes but were particularly rich in cytolytic (CD107+) T cells. When combined with the changes in peripheral blood T cells, these factors indicate that events during acute HIV infection are likely to include distortions in proinflammatory and anti-inflammatory T cell responses within the granuloma that have significant effects on reactivation of latent TB. Moreover, it appears that mycobacteria-specific multifunctional T cells are better correlates of Ag load (i.e., disease status) than of protection.
With a host of new antitubercular chemotherapeutics in development, methods to assess the activity of these agents beyond mouse efficacy are needed to prioritize combinations for clinical trials. Lesions in Mycobacterium tuberculosis-infected rabbits are hypoxic, with histopathologic features that closely resemble those of human tuberculous lesions. Using [18F]2-fluoro-deoxy-d-glucose ([18F]FDG) positron emission tomography–computed tomography (PET-CT) imaging, we studied the dynamics of tuberculosis infection in rabbits, revealing an initial inflammatory response followed by a consolidative chronic disease. Five weeks after infection, as much as 23% of total lung volume was abnormal, but this was contained and to some extent reversed naturally by 9 weeks. During development of this chronic state, individual lesions in the same animal had very different fates, ranging from complete resolution to significant progression. Lesions that remained through the initial stage showed an increase in volume and tissue density over time by CT. Initiation of chemotherapy using either isoniazid (INH) or rifampin (RIF) during chronic infection reduced bacterial load with quantitative changes in [18F]FDG uptake, lesion density and total lesion volume measured by CT. The [18F]FDG PET uptake in lesions was significantly reduced with as little as 1 week of treatment, while the volume and density of lesions changed more slowly. The results from this study suggest that rabbits may be a useful surrogate species for evaluating novel chemotherapies and understanding changes in both PET and CT scans in human clinical trials.
Factors explaining why human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) enhances the risk of reactivated tuberculosis (TB) are poorly understood. Unfortunately, experimental models of HIV-induced reactivated TB are lacking. We examined whether cynomolgus macaques, which accurately model latent TB in humans, could be used to model pathogenesis of HIV infection in the lungs and associated lymph nodes. These experiments precede studies modeling the effects of HIV infection on latent TB. We infected two groups of macaques with chimeric simian–human immunodeficiency viruses (SHIV-89.6P and SHIV-KU2) and followed viral titers and immunologic parameters including lymphocytes numbers and phenotype in the blood, bronchoalveolar lavage cells, and lymph nodes over the course of infection. Tissues from the lungs, liver, kidney, spleen, and lymph nodes were similarly examined at necropsy. Both strains produced dramatic CD4+ T cell depletion. Plasma titers were not different between viruses, but we found more SHIV-89.6P in the lungs. Both viruses induced similar patterns of cell activation markers. SHIV-89.6P induced more IFN-γ expression than SHIV-KU2. These results indicate SHIV-89.6P and SHIV-KU2 infect cynomolgus macaques and may be used to accurately model effects of HIV infection on latent TB.
It is estimated that one-third of the world’s population is infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Infection typically remains latent, but it can reactivate to cause clinical disease. The only vaccine, Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG), is largely ineffective, and ways to enhance its efficacy are being developed. Of note, the candidate booster vaccines currently under clinical development have been designed to improve BCG efficacy but not prevent reactivation of latent infection. Here, we demonstrate that administering a multistage vaccine that we term H56 in the adjuvant IC31 as a boost to vaccination with BCG delays and reduces clinical disease in cynomolgus macaques challenged with M. tuberculosis and prevents reactivation of latent infection. H56 contains Ag85B and ESAT-6, which are two of the M. tuberculosis antigens secreted in the acute phase of infection, and the nutrient stress–induced antigen Rv2660c. Boosting with H56/IC31 resulted in efficient containment of M. tuberculosis infection and reduced rates of clinical disease, as measured by clinical parameters, inflammatory markers, and improved survival of the animals compared with BCG alone. Boosted animals showed reduced pulmonary pathology and extrapulmonary dissemination, and protection correlated with a strong recall response against ESAT-6 and Rv2660c. Importantly, BCG/H56-vaccinated monkeys did not reactivate latent infection after treatment with anti-TNF antibody. Our results indicate that H56/IC31 boosting is able to control late-stage infection with M. tuberculosis and contain latent tuberculosis, providing a rationale for the clinical development of H56.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) has generated a global health catastrophe that has been compounded by the emergence of drug resistant Mtb strains. We used whole genome sequencing to compare the accumulation of mutations in Mtb isolated from cynomolgus macaques with active, latent and reactivated disease. Based on the distribution of SNPs observed, we calculated the mutation rates for these disease states. Our data suggest that Mtb acquires a similar number of chromosomal mutations during latency as occurs during active disease or in a logarithmically growing culture over the same period of time despite reduced bacterial replication during latent infection. The pattern of polymorphisms suggests that the mutational burden in vivo is due to oxidative DNA damage. Thus, we demonstrate that Mtb continues to acquire mutations during latency and provide a novel explanation for the observation that isoniazid monotherapy for latent tuberculosis is a risk factor for the emergence of INH resistance1,2.
Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV) and Mycobacterium tuberculosis have become intertwined over the past few decades in a “syndemic” that exacerbates the morbidity and mortality associated with each pathogen alone. The severity of the coinfection has been extensively examined in clinical studies. The extrapolation of peripheral evidence from clinical studies has increased our basic understanding of how HIV increases susceptibility to TB. These studies have resulted in multiple hypotheses of how HIV exacerbates TB pathology through the manipulation of granulomas. Granulomas can be located in many tissues, most prominently the lungs and associated lymph nodes, and are made up of multiple immune cells that can actively contain M. tuberculosis. Granuloma-based research involving both animal models and clinical studies is needed to confirm these hypotheses, which will further our understanding of this coinfection and may lead to better treatment options. This review examines the data that support each hypothesis of how HIV manipulates TB pathology while emphasizing a need for more tissue-based experiments.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis is one of the world's most deadly human pathogens; an integrated understanding of how it successfully survives in its host is crucial to developing new treatment strategies. One notable characteristic of infection with M. tuberculosis is the formation of granulomas, aggregates of immune cells whose structure and function may reflect success or failure of the host to contain infection. One central regulator of host responses to infection, including granuloma formation, is the pleiotropic cytokine tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF). Experimental work has characterized roles for TNF in macrophage activation; regulation of apoptosis; chemokine and cytokine production; and regulation of cellular recruitment via trans-endothelial migration. Separating the effects of these functions is presently difficult or impossible in vivo. To this end, we applied a computational model to understand specific roles of TNF in control of tuberculosis in a single granuloma. In the model, cells are represented as discrete entities on a spatial grid responding to environmental stimuli by following programmed rules determined from published experimental studies. Simulated granulomas emerge as a result of these rules. After confirming the importance of TNF in this model, we assessed the effects of individual TNF functions. The model predicts that multiple TNF activities contribute to control of infection within the granuloma, with macrophage activation as a key effector mechanism for controlling bacterial growth. Results suggest that bacterial numbers are a strong contributing factor to granuloma structure with TNF. Finally, TNF-dependent apoptosis may reduce inflammation at the cost of impairing mycobacterial clearance.
Cytokines; Bacterial Infections; Chemotaxis; Inflammation
Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the earliest recorded human diseases and still one of the deadliest worldwide. Its causative agent is the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb). Cytokine-mediated macrophage activation is a necessary step in control of bacterial growth, and early immunologic events in lymph node and lung are crucial to the outcome of infection, although the factors that influence these environments and the immune response are poorly understood.
Our goal is to build the next-generation two-compartmental model of the immune response to provide a gateway to more spatial and mechanistic investigations of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection in the LN and lung. Crucial immune factors emerge that affect macrophage populations and inflammation, namely TNF-dependent recruitment and apoptosis, and IL-10 levels. Surprisingly, bacterial load plays a less important role than TNF in increasing the population of infected macrophages and inflammation.
Using a mathematical model, it is possible to distinguish the effects of pro-inflammatory (TNF) and anti-inflammatory (IL-10) cytokines on the spectrum of phagocyte populations (macrophages and dendritic cells) in the lung and lymph node. Our results suggest that TNF is a major mediator of recruitment of phagocytes to the lungs. In contrast, IL-10 is a factor in balancing the dominant macrophage phenotype in LN and lung.
Mathematical model; Classically and Alternatively Activated macrophages; DCs; inflammation
Summary of recent advances
Mycobacterium tuberculosis is a remarkably successful human pathogen. The interaction with the human host is complex and much remains unknown. Recent advances in systems biology have allowed the integration of data from humans and animal models into computational approaches. For example, mathematical models provide a platform for in silico manipulation of host-pathogen interactions to gain insight into this infection across temporal and biologic scales. Here, we review recent studies on global approaches toward identifying comprehensive responses of both host and bacillus during infection, and the potential for incorporation of these data into many types of useful computational systems. Systems Biology approaches provide a unique opportunity to study interventions that may improve therapy and vaccines against this major killer.
An increased risk of tuberculosis has been documented in humans treated with tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF) neutralizing agents. In murine models, impaired signaling by TNF caused exacerbation of both acute and chronic infection associated with aberrant granuloma formation and maintenance. The non-human primate model of tuberculosis provides an opportunity to study immune modulation in the setting of TNF neutralization during primary and latent tuberculosis. Administration of TNF neutralizing agents prior to M. tuberculosis infection resulted in fulminant and disseminated disease by 8 weeks post-infection. Neutralization of TNF in latently infected cynomolgus macaques caused reactivation in a majority of animals as determined by gross pathology and bacterial burden. A spectrum of dissemination was noted including extrapulmonary disease. Surprisingly, monkeys who developed primary and reactivation tuberculosis after TNF neutralization had similar granuloma structure and composition compared to active control monkeys. TNF neutralization was associated with increased IL-12, decreased CCL4, increased chemokine receptor expression and reduced mycobacteria-specific IFN-γ production in blood but not to the affected mediastinal lymph nodes. Finally, the first signs of reactivation often occurred in thoracic lymph nodes. These findings have important clinical implications for determining the mechanism of TNF-neutralization-related tuberculosis.
TNF; tuberculosis; non-human primate
Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) has a penetrance of its host population that would be the envy of most human pathogens. Approximately 1/3 of the human population is skin test positive for the infection and is thus thought to harbor the bacterium. Globally, 22 “high-burden” countries account for over 80% of the active tuberculosis cases in the world, highlighting the inequitable distribution of the disease. There is no effective vaccine against infection and current drug therapies are fraught with problems, predominantly due to the protracted nature of the treatment and the increasing occurrence of drug resistance. Here we focus on the biology of the host-pathogen interaction and discuss new and evolving strategies for intervention.
The host immune response is generally sufficient to contain Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection. It does not, however, efficiently prevent subsequent infection with M. tuberculosis or provide sterilizing immunity. While the understanding of the immune response generated against this pathogen is incomplete, improvements have been achieved due to advances in immunological tools. In this study, we analyzed the multifunctional nature of primary and memory CD8 T-cell responses generated during murine M. tuberculosis infection. We generated a recombinant M. tuberculosis strain expressing ovalbumin (OVA) epitopes in order to expand the peptides for the detection of CD8 T cells during M. tuberculosis infection and enable us to use OVA-specific reagents. Our results indicate that the majority of M. tuberculosis-specific CD8 T cells are limited to either cytotoxicity or the secretion of gamma interferon (IFN-γ), with cytotoxicity being far more prevalent than IFN-γ secretion. Memory CD8 T cells responded earlier and reached higher levels in the lungs than naïve CD8 T cells, as was expected. They were, however, less cytotoxic and secreted less IFN-γ than newly primed CD8 T cells, suggesting that one factor contributing to bacterial persistence and lack of sterilizing immunity may be the low quality of memory cells that are generated.
We previously described that low-dose Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection in cynomolgus macaques results in a spectrum of disease similar to that of human infection: primary disease, latent infection, and reactivation tuberculosis (S. V. Capuano III, D. A. Croix, S. Pawar, A. Zinovik, A. Myers, P. L. Lin, S. Bissel, C. Fuhrman, E. Klein, and J. L. Flynn, Infect. Immun. 71:5831-5844, 2003). This is the only established model of latent infection, and it provides a unique opportunity to understand host and pathogen differences across of range of disease states. Here, we provide a more extensive and detailed characterization of the gross pathology, microscopic histopathology, and immunologic characteristics of monkeys in each clinical disease category. The data underscore the similarities between human and nonhuman primate M. tuberculosis infection. Furthermore, we describe novel methods of quantifying gross pathology and bacterial burden that distinguish between active disease and latent infection, and we extend the usefulness of this model for comparative studies. Early in infection, an abnormal chest X ray, M. tuberculosis growth by gastric aspirate, and increased mycobacterium-specific gamma interferon (IFN-γ) in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) cells were associated with the development of active disease. At necropsy, disease was quantified with respect to pathology and bacterial numbers. Microscopically, a spectrum of granuloma types are seen and differ with disease type. At necropsy, monkeys with active disease had more lung T cells and more IFN-γ from PBMC, BAL, and mediastinal lymph nodes than monkeys with latent infection. Finally, we have observed a spectrum of disease not only in monkeys with active disease but also in those with latent infection that provides insight into human latent tuberculosis.
HIV-infected individuals with latent Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) infection are at significantly greater risk of reactivation tuberculosis (TB) than HIV-negative individuals with latent TB, even while CD4 T cell numbers are well preserved. Factors underlying high rates of reactivation are poorly understood and investigative tools are limited. We used cynomolgus macaques with latent TB co-infected with SIVmac251 to develop the first animal model of reactivated TB in HIV-infected humans to better explore these factors. All latent animals developed reactivated TB following SIV infection, with a variable time to reactivation (up to 11 months post-SIV). Reactivation was independent of virus load but correlated with depletion of peripheral T cells during acute SIV infection. Animals experiencing reactivation early after SIV infection (<17 weeks) had fewer CD4 T cells in the periphery and airways than animals reactivating in later phases of SIV infection. Co-infected animals had fewer T cells in involved lungs than SIV-negative animals with active TB despite similar T cell numbers in draining lymph nodes. Granulomas from these animals demonstrated histopathologic characteristics consistent with a chronically active disease process. These results suggest initial T cell depletion may strongly influence outcomes of HIV-Mtb co-infection.
Understanding the physical characteristics of the local microenvironment in which Mycobacterium tuberculosis resides is an important goal that may allow the targeting of metabolic processes to shorten drug regimens. Pimonidazole hydrochloride (Hypoxyprobe) is an imaging agent that is bioreductively activated only under hypoxic conditions in mammalian tissue. We employed this probe to evaluate the oxygen tension in tuberculous granulomas in four animal models of disease: mouse, guinea pig, rabbit, and nonhuman primate. Following infusion of pimonidazole into animals with established infections, lung tissues from the guinea pig, rabbit, and nonhuman primate showed discrete areas of pimonidazole adduct formation surrounding necrotic and caseous regions of pulmonary granulomas by immunohistochemical staining. This labeling could be substantially reduced by housing the animal under an atmosphere of 95% O2. Direct measurement of tissue oxygen partial pressure by surgical insertion of a fiber optic oxygen probe into granulomas in the lungs of living infected rabbits demonstrated that even small (3-mm) pulmonary lesions were severely hypoxic (1.6 ± 0.7 mm Hg). Finally, metronidazole, which has potent bactericidal activity in vitro only under low-oxygen culture conditions, was highly effective at reducing total-lung bacterial burdens in infected rabbits. Thus, three independent lines of evidence support the hypothesis that hypoxic microenvironments are an important feature of some lesions in these animal models of tuberculosis.
Tuberculosis (TB) is a serious global disease. The fatality rate attributed to TB is among the highest of infectious diseases, with approximately 2 million deaths occurring per year worldwide. Identification of individuals infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis and screening of their immediate contacts is crucial for controlling the spread of TB. Current methods for detection of M. tuberculosis infection are not efficient, in particular, for testing large numbers of samples. We report a novel and efficient multiplex microbead immunoassay (MMIA), based on Luminex technology, for profiling antibodies to M. tuberculosis. Microbead sets identifiable by unique fluorescence were individually coated with each of several M. tuberculosis antigens and tested in multiplex format for antibody detection in the experimental nonhuman primate model of TB. Certain M. tuberculosis antigens, e.g., ESAT-6, CFP-10, and HspX, were included to enhance the specificity of the MMIA, because these antigens are absent in nontuberculous mycobacteria and the vaccine strain Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guérin. The MMIA enabled simultaneous detection of multiple M. tuberculosis plasma antibodies in several cohorts of macaques representing different stages of infection and/or disease. Antibody profiles were defined in early and latent/chronic infection. These proof-of-concept findings demonstrate the potential clinical use of the MMIA. In addition, the MMIA serodetection system has a potential for mining M. tuberculosis open reading frames (about 4,000) to discover novel target proteins for the development of more-comprehensive TB serodiagnostic tests.
The immune response to Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) infection is complex. Experimental evidence has revealed that tumor necrosis factor (TNF) plays a major role in host defense against Mtb in both active and latent phases of infection. TNF-neutralizing drugs used to treat inflammatory disorders have been reported to increase the risk of tuberculosis (TB), in accordance with animal studies. The present study takes a computational approach toward characterizing the role of TNF in protection against the tubercle bacillus in both active and latent infection. We extend our previous mathematical models to investigate the roles and production of soluble (sTNF) and transmembrane TNF (tmTNF). We analyze effects of anti-TNF therapy in virtual clinical trials (VCTs) by simulating two of the most commonly used therapies, anti-TNF antibody and TNF receptor fusion, predicting mechanisms that explain observed differences in TB reactivation rates. The major findings from this study are that bioavailability of TNF following anti-TNF therapy is the primary factor for causing reactivation of latent infection and that sTNF—even at very low levels—is essential for control of infection. Using a mathematical model, it is possible to distinguish mechanisms of action of the anti-TNF treatments and gain insights into the role of TNF in TB control and pathology. Our study suggests that a TNF-modulating agent could be developed that could balance the requirement for reduction of inflammation with the necessity to maintain resistance to infection and microbial diseases. Alternatively, the dose and timing of anti-TNF therapy could be modified. Anti-TNF therapy will likely lead to numerous incidents of primary TB if used in areas where exposure is likely.
Tuberculosis (TB) is the leading cause of death due to infectious disease in the world today. It is estimated that 2 billion people are currently infected, and although most people have latent infection, reactivation occurs due to factors such as HIV-1 and aging. Antibiotic treatments exist; however, there is still no cure and the current vaccine has proven to be unreliable. Experimental science has uncovered a plethora of immune factors that help the host control infection and maintain latency. One such factor, tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF), is a protein that facilitates cell–cell communication during an inflammatory immune response. Animal models have shown that TNF is necessary for control of TB infection. Different types of anti-TNF drugs were developed for patients with non-TB related inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease. Some of these patients who had latent TB suffered reactivation, especially with one drug type. Because these studies cannot be performed in the mouse, and nonhuman primates are expensive, we developed a computational model to perform virtual clinical trials (VCTs) that predicted why reactivation occurs and why it happens differentially between the two classes of drugs tested. We make recommendations on how this issue can be combated.
Little is known regarding the early events of infection of humans with Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The cynomolgus macaque is a useful model of tuberculosis, with strong similarities to human tuberculosis. In this study, eight cynomolgus macaques were infected bronchoscopically with low-dose M. tuberculosis; clinical, immunologic, microbiologic, and pathologic events were assessed 3 to 6 weeks postinfection. Gross pathological abnormalities were observed as early as 3 weeks, including Ghon complex formation by 5 weeks postinfection. Caseous granulomas were observed in the lung as early as 4 weeks postinfection. Only caseous granulomas were observed in the lungs at these early time points, reflecting a rigorous initial response. T-cell activation (CD29 and CD69) and chemokine receptor (CXCR3 and CCR5) expression appeared localized to different anatomic sites. Activation markers were increased on cells from airways and only at modest levels on cells in peripheral blood. The priming of mycobacterium-specific T cells, characterized by the production of gamma interferon occurred slowly, with responses seen only after 4 weeks of infection. These responses were observed from T lymphocytes in blood, airways, and hilar lymph node, with responses predominantly localized to the site of infection. From these studies, we conclude that immune responses to M. tuberculosis are relatively slow in the local and peripheral compartments and that necrosis occurs surprisingly quickly during granuloma formation.
The importance in vivo of P2X7 receptors in control of virulent Mycobacterium tuberculosis was examined in a low-dose aerosol infection mouse model. P2X7−/− mice controlled infection in lungs as well as wild-type mice, suggesting that the P2X7 receptor is not required for control of pulmonary M. tuberculosis infection.
Several studies have provided evidence that interleukin-15 (IL-15) can enhance protective immune responses against Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection. However, the effects of IL-15 deficiency on the functionality of M. tuberculosis-specific CD4 and CD8 T cells are unknown. In this study, we investigated the generation and maintenance of effector and memory T-cell responses following M. tuberculosis infection of IL-15−/− mice. IL-15−/− mice had slightly higher bacterial numbers during chronic infection, which were accompanied by an increase in gamma interferon (IFN-γ)-producing CD4 and CD8 T cells. There was no evidence of increased apoptosis or a defect in proliferation of CD8 effector T cells following M. tuberculosis infection. The induction of cytotoxic and IFN-γ CD8 T-cell responses was normal in the absence of IL-15 signaling. The infiltration of CD4 and CD8 T cells into the lungs of “immune” IL-15−/− mice was delayed in response to M. tuberculosis challenge. These findings demonstrate that efficient effector CD4 and CD8 T cells can be developed following M. tuberculosis infection in the absence of IL-15 but that recall T-cell responses may be impaired.
Alternate modalities for the treatment of Mycobacterium tuberculosis are needed due to the rise in numbers of immunosuppressed individuals at risk for serious disease and the increasing prevalence of multidrug-resistant isolates. Interleukin-12 (IL-12) has been shown to improve immune responses against M. tuberculosis infection in both humans and mice. Previous studies using high-dose IL-12 in various disease models reported a paradoxical immunosuppression. We demonstrate here that exogenous administration of IL-12 for 8 weeks after an aerosolized low dose of M. tuberculosis results in increased survival and decreased pulmonary bacterial loads for CD4-T-cell-deficient mice, most likely due to an early increase in gamma interferon. IL-12 treatment did not impair or enhance the ability of the wild-type mice to control infection, as measured by bacterial numbers. Two novel findings are reported here regarding exogenous IL-12 therapy for M. tuberculosis infections: (i) IL-12 treatment resulted in decreased numbers of immune cells and reduced frequencies of lymphocytes (CD8+, CD4+, and NK cells) in the lungs of infected mice and (ii) IL-12 therapy reduced the pathology of M. tuberculosis-infected lungs, as granulomas were smaller and less numerous. These studies support an immunoregulatory role for IL-12 in tuberculosis.
Tuberculosis remains a major public health problem worldwide. Chemokines and cytokines organize and direct infiltrating cells to sites of infection, and these molecules likely play crucial roles in granuloma formation and maintenance. To address this issue, we used in situ hybridization (ISH) to measure chemokine and cytokine mRNA expression levels and patterns directly in lung tissues from cynomolgus macaques (Macaca fascicularis) experimentally infected with a low dose of virulent Mycobacterium tuberculosis. We examined more than 300 granulomas and observed abundant expression of gamma interferon (IFN-γ)-inducible chemokine mRNAs (CXCL9/monokine induced by IFN-γ, CXCL10/IFN-γ-inducible protein, and CXCL11/IFN-γ-inducible T-cell α-chemoattractant) within solid and caseous granulomas, and there was only minimal expression in nongranulomatous regions of tissue. The mRNA expression patterns of IFN-γ and tumor necrosis factor alpha were examined in parallel, and the results revealed that cytokine mRNA+ cells were abundant and generally localized to the granulomas. Mycobacterial 16S rRNA expression was also measured by ISH, and the results revealed that there was localization predominantly to the granulomas and that the highest signal intensity was in caseous granulomas. We observed several granulomatous lesions with exceptionally high levels of RNA for mycobacterial 16S rRNA, IFN-γ, and IFN-γ-inducible chemokines, suggesting that the local presence of mycobacteria is partially responsible for the upregulation of IFN-γ-inducible chemokines and recruitment of CXCR3+ cells, which were also abundant in granulomatous lesions. These results suggest that expression of CXCR3 ligands and the subsequent recruitment of CXCR3+ cells are involved in granuloma formation and maintenance.
Nonhuman primates were used to develop an animal model that closely mimics human Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection. Cynomolgus macaques were infected with low doses of virulent M. tuberculosis via bronchoscopic instillation into the lung. All monkeys were successfully infected, based on tuberculin skin test conversion and peripheral immune responses to M. tuberculosis antigens. Progression of infection in the 17 monkeys studied was variable. Active-chronic infection, observed in 50 to 60% of monkeys, was characterized by clear signs of infection or disease on serial thoracic radiographs and in other tests and was typified by eventual progression to advanced disease. Approximately 40% of monkeys did not progress to disease in the 15 to 20 months of study, although they were clearly infected initially. These monkeys had clinical characteristics of latent tuberculosis in humans. Low-dose infection of cynomolgus macaques appears to represent the full spectrum of human M. tuberculosis infection and will be an excellent model for the study of pathogenesis and immunology of this infection. In addition, this model will provide an opportunity to study the latent M. tuberculosis infection observed in ∼90% of all infected humans.
Within a Mycobacterium tuberculosis-induced granuloma, lymphocytes and macrophages work together to control bacterial growth and limit the spread of infection. Chemokines and chemokine receptors are involved in cell migration and are logical candidates for a role in granuloma formation. In the present study we addressed the role of CC chemokine receptor 2 (CCR2) in M. tuberculosis infection. In previous studies (W. Peters et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 98:7958-7963, 2001), CCR2−/− mice were found to be highly susceptible to a moderate or high dose of H37Rv administered intravenously (i.v.). We have expanded those studies to demonstrate that the susceptibility of CCR2−/− mice is dose dependent. After low-dose aerosol or i.v. infection of CCR2−/− mice with M. tuberculosis, there was a substantial delay in cell migration to the lungs and delayed expression of gamma interferon and inducible nitric oxide synthase. The CCR2−/− mice had a severe and prolonged deficiency in the number of macrophages in the lungs and an early increase in the number of neutrophils. Despite these deficiencies in cell migration, the CCR2−/− mice did not have increased bacterial loads in the lungs compared to wild-type (C57BL/6) mice and successfully formed granulomas. This finding is in contrast to CCR2−/− mice infected with a high dose of M. tuberculosis administered i.v. These results indicate that with low-dose infection, a delay in immune response in the lungs does not necessarily have detrimental long-term effects on the progression of the disease. The fact that CCR2−/− mice survive with substantially fewer macrophages in the low-dose models implies that the immune response to low-dose M. tuberculosis infection in mice is more robust than necessary to control the infection. Finally, these data demonstrate that, in cases of infectious disease in knockout models, clear phenotypes may not be evident when one is solely evaluating bacterial numbers and survival. Functional assays may be necessary to reveal roles for components of the multifactorial immune system.