Interaction Between Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Human Neutrophils

University dissertation from Linköping : Linköpings universitet

Abstract: Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the etiologic agent of tuberculosis, is responsible for more deaths each year than any other single pathogen. Mononuclear phagocytes and T cells are crucially involved in the control and local containment of this infection. Less is known about the contribution of neutrophils to control tuberculosis. As one of the most efficient phagocytic cells of the immune system, neutrophils restrict the initial, local replication of numerous pathogens and thereby delay their systemic spread. Neutrophils immigrate quickly to the site of mycobacterial entry and are found in granulomas after infection with M. tuberculosis. The aims of this study were to investigate how neutrophils control M. tuberculosis in the acute phase of mycobacterial infection and the signaling pathways regulating these processes.When neutrophils are exposed to mycobacteria, they exhibit the typical early bactericidal responses: phagocytosis, generation of reactive oxygen intermediate (ROI), degranulation and the killing of mycobacteria. While production of ROI and M. tuberculosis killing in neutrophils are calcium dependent events, phagocytosis of M. tuberculosis is a calcium-independent process. Measuring intracellular calcium concentration [(Ca+2)]i, revealed that there is no increase in the level of [(Ca+2)]i in single neutrophils upon ingestion of M. tuberculosis. Investigation of the M. tuberculosis-induced phagocytic pathway showed that stimulation of neutrophils by M. tuberculosis triggers tyrosine phosphorylation of PLCγ2 and its association with sch, an adapter protein, and that such association are critical for the M. tuberculosis-stimulated ROI production through activating p38 MAPK. During phagolysosome biogenesis, phagosomes containing M. tuberculosis fused sequentially with secondary granule and late endosomal vacuoles, while delivery of azurophil granule was inhibited. A complex of Rab5a-GTP and syntaxin-4 controlled this fusion process. We suggested that the retention of this complex on the mycobacterial phagosome might allow mycobacteria to avoid the usual physiological destination of phagocytic maturation. Neutrophils infected by M. tuberculosis underwent rapid apoptosis that was mediated by activation of caspase-3 and the expression of Bax and Bcl-x1, two antagonizing members of Bcl-2 family. The level of ROI production controlled this M. tuberculosis induced apoptotic pathway. Apoptotic neutrophils are removed by macrophages, which leads to an augmented mycobactericidal effect in these cells. The results from this work show that neutrophils play an efficient and important role in the early innate immune response against mycobacterial infection, a process that may influence the subsequent specific immune response at the site of infection.

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