Shortening the ‘short-course’ therapy– insights into host immunity may contribute to new treatment strategies for tuberculosis

Authors

  • T. Schön,

    1. Department of Infectious Diseases and Department of Clinical Microbiology, Kalmar County Hospital, Kalmar, Sweden
    2. Division of Microbiology and Molecular Medicine, IKE, Faculty of Health Sciences, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden
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  • M. Lerm,

    1. Division of Microbiology and Molecular Medicine, IKE, Faculty of Health Sciences, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden
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  • O. Stendahl

    Corresponding author
    1. Division of Microbiology and Molecular Medicine, IKE, Faculty of Health Sciences, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden
    • Department of Infectious Diseases and Department of Clinical Microbiology, Kalmar County Hospital, Kalmar, Sweden
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Correspondence: Professor Olle Stendahl, Institutionen för klinisk och experimentell medicin, Medicinsk mikrobiologi, Linköping University, Linköping 581 85, Sweden.

(fax: +010 103 20 50; e-mail: olle.stendahl@liu.se).

Abstract

Achieving global control of tuberculosis (TB) is a great challenge considering the current increase in multidrug resistance and mortality rate. Considerable efforts are therefore being made to develop new effective vaccines, more effective and rapid diagnostic tools as well as new drugs. Shortening the duration of TB treatment with revised regimens and modes of delivery of existing drugs, as well as development of new antimicrobial agents and optimization of the host response with adjuvant immunotherapy could have a profound impact on TB cure rates. Recent data show that chronic worm infection and deficiencies in micronutrients such as vitamin D and arginine are potential areas of intervention to optimize host immunity. Nutritional supplementation to enhance nitric oxide production and vitamin D-mediated effector functions as well as the treatment of worm infection to reduce immunosuppressive effects of regulatory T (Treg) lymphocytes may be more suitable and accessible strategies for highly endemic areas than adjuvant cytokine therapy. In this review, we focus mainly on immune control of human TB, and discuss how current treatment strategies, including immunotherapy and nutritional supplementation, could be optimized to enhance the host response leading to more effective treatment.

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