Author(s): Cowley SC, Elkins KL
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Abstract Although IFN-gamma is necessary for survival of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection in people and animal models, it may not be sufficient to clear the infection, and IFN-gamma is not a reliable correlate of protection. To determine whether IFN-gamma-independent mechanisms of immunity exist, we developed a murine ex vivo culture system that directly evaluates the ability of splenic or lung lymphocytes to control the growth of M. tuberculosis within infected macrophages, and that models in vivo immunity to tuberculosis. Surprisingly, CD4(+) T cells controlled >90\% of intracellular M. tuberculosis growth in the complete absence of IFN-gamma stimulation of macrophages, via a NO-dependent mechanism. Furthermore, bacillus Calmette-Guerin-vaccinated IFN-gamma-deficient mice exhibited significant protection against M. tuberculosis challenge that was lost upon depletion of CD4(+) T cells. These findings demonstrate that CD4(+) T cells possess IFN-gamma-independent mechanisms that can limit the growth of an intracellular pathogen and are dominant in secondary responses to M. tuberculosis.
This article was published in J Immunol
and referenced in Journal of Clinical & Cellular Immunology