Down-Modulation of Lung Immune Responses by Interleukin-10 and Transforming Growth Factor β (TGF-β) and Analysis of TGF-β Receptors I and II in Active Tuberculosis

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Infection and Immunity








Immune factors influencing progression to active tuberculosis (TB) remain poorly defined. In this study, we investigated the expression of immunoregulatory cytokines and receptors by using lung bronchoalveolar lavage cells obtained from patients with pulmonary TB, patients with other lung diseases (OLD patients), and healthy volunteers (VOL) by using reverse transcriptase PCR, a transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) bioactivity assay, and an enzyme immunoassay. TB patients were significantly more likely than OLD patients to coexpress TGF-β receptor I (RI) and RII mRNA, as well as interleukin-10 (IL-10) mRNA (thereby indicating the state of active gene transcription in the alveolar cells at harvest). In contrast, gamma interferon (IFN-γ) and IL-2 mRNA was seen in both TB and OLD patients. Likewise, significantly elevated pulmonary steady-state protein levels of IL-10, IFN-γ, and bioactive TGF-β were found in TB patients versus those in OLD patients and VOL. These data suggest that the combined production of the immunosuppressants IL-10 and TGF-β, as well as coexpression of TGF-β RI and RII (required for cellular response to TGF-β), may act to down-modulate host anti-Mycobacterium tuberculosis immunity and thereby allow uncontrolled bacterial replication and overt disease. Delineating the underlying mechanisms of M. tuberculosis-triggered expression of these immune elements may provide a molecular-level understanding of TB immunopathogenesis.