Author(s): Flynn JL, Goldstein MM, Triebold KJ, Koller B, Bloom BR
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Abstract Mice with a targeted disruption in the beta 2-microglobulin (beta 2m) gene, which lack major histocompatibility complex class I molecules and consequently fail to develop functional CD8 T cells, provided a useful model for assessing the role of class I-restricted T cells in resistance to infection with virulent Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Of mutant beta 2m-/-mice infected with virulent 10(6) M. tuberculosis, 70\% were dead or moribund after 6 weeks, while all control mice expressing the beta 2m gene remained alive for > 20 weeks. Granuloma formation occurred in mutant and control mice, but far greater numbers of tubercle bacilli were present in the lungs of mutant mice than in controls, and caseating necrosis was seen only in beta 2m-/-lungs. In contrast, no differences were seen in the course of infection of mutant and control mice with an avirulent vaccine strain, bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG). Immunization with BCG vaccine prolonged survival of beta 2m-/-mice after challenge with M. tuberculosis for 4 weeks but did not protect them from death. These data indicate that functional CD8 T cells, and possibly T cells bearing gamma delta antigen receptor, are a necessary component of a protective immune response to M. tuberculosis in mice.
This article was published in Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A
and referenced in Journal of Clinical & Cellular Immunology