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Keywords:

  • BCG;
  • M. tuberculosis;
  • macrophages;
  • infection;
  • cytokines

Abstract

Macrophages are an important component in the first line of defence of the innate immune system. They are capable of producing cytokines in response to bacterial challenge, as well as in response to cytokine stimuli from other cells in the immune system. The microbicidal response of human monocyte-derived macrophages in vitro, induced by exogenously added cytokines, is highly variable. We found that tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) could have either stimulatory or inhibitory effects on intracellular BCG killing, depending on the macrophage donor. Macrophages infected in vitro by various clinical isolates of Mycobacterium tuberculosis or the laboratory strain H37Rv, produced varying levels of both TNF-α and IFN-γ. Certain M. tuberculosis strains tended to be associated with high cytokine production in each of three independent experiments, indicating that strains may differ in the host response elicited to infection.