Expression of virulence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis within human monocytes: Virulence correlates with intracellular growth and induction of tumor necrosis factor alpha but not with evasion of lymphocyte-dependent monocyte effector functions

Richard F. Silver, Qing Li, Jerrold J. Ellner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We assessed the applicability of an in vitro model of low-level infection of human monocytes to the characterization of the virulence of strains of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis family. Peripheral blood monocytes were infected at a 1:1 ratio with the virulent M. tuberculosis strain H37Rv, the avirulent M. tuberculosis strain H37Ra, and the attenuated M. bovis strain BCG. Both the percentages of cells infected by the three strains and the initial numbers of intracellular organisms were equivalent, as were levels of monocyte viability up to 7 days following infection. Intracellular growth reflected virulence, as H37Rv replicated in logarithmic fashion throughout the assay, BCG growth reached a plateau at 4 days, and H37Ra did not grow at all. The same patterns of growth were observed following infection of human alveolar macrophages with H37Rv and H37Ra. Monocyte production of tumor necrosis factor alpha was significantly higher following infection with virulent H37Rv than with either BCG or H37Ra. In contrast, there was no clear correlation of interleukin 10 production with virulence. Nonadherent cells of purified-protein-derivative-positive donors mediated equivalent degrees of reduction of the intracellular growth of H37Rv, BCG, and H37Ra. Low-level infection of human monocytes with H37Rv, BCG, and H37Ra thus provides an in vitro model for assessment of the virulence of these M. tuberculosis family strains. Furthermore, it is suggested that the virulence of these strains is expressed primarily by their differing abilities to adapt to the intracellular environment of the mononuclear phagocyte.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1190-1199
Number of pages10
JournalInfection and Immunity
Volume66
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology

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