• anti-microbial activity;
  • interleukin-2;
  • interleukin-26 receptor;
  • monocytes/macrophages


Differences in the activity of monocytes/macrophages, important target cells of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, might influence tuberculosis progression. With the purpose of identifying candidate genes for tuberculosis susceptibility we infected monocytes from both healthy elderly individuals (a tuberculosis susceptibility group) and elderly tuberculosis patients with M. tuberculosis, and performed a microarray experiment. We detected 78 differentially expressed transcripts and confirmed these results by quantitative PCR of selected genes. We found that monocytes from tuberculosis patients showed similar expression patterns for these genes, regardless of whether they were obtained from younger or older patients. Only one of the detected genes corresponded to a cytokine: IL26, a member of the interleukin-10 (IL-10) cytokine family which we found to be down-regulated in infected monocytes from tuberculosis patients. Non-infected monocytes secreted IL-26 constitutively but they reacted strongly to M. tuberculosis infection by decreasing IL-26 production. Furthermore, IL-26 serum concentrations appeared to be lower in the tuberculosis patients. When whole blood was infected, IL-26 inhibited the observed pathogen-killing capability. Although lymphocytes expressed IL26R, the receptor mRNA was not detected in either monocytes or neutrophils, suggesting that the inhibition of anti-mycobacterial activity may be mediated by lymphocytes. Additionally, IL-2 concentrations in infected blood were lower in the presence of IL-26. The negative influence of IL-26 on the anti-mycobacterial activity and its constitutive presence in both serum and monocyte supernatants prompt us to propose IL26 as a candidate gene for tuberculosis susceptibility.