Restraining mycobacteria: role of granulomas in mycobacterial infections

Immunol Cell Biol. 2000 Aug;78(4):334-41. doi: 10.1046/j.1440-1711.2000.00933.x.


The generation of prolonged immunity to Mycobacterium tuberculosis requires not only an antigen-specific IFN-gamma-producing T cell response, including both CD4 and CD8 T cells, but also the generation of protective granulomatous lesions, whereby the close apposition of activated T cells and macrophages acts to contain bacterial growth. The importance of the granulomatous lesion in controlling this immune response and in limiting both tissue damage and bacterial dissemination has been considered a secondary event but, as the present review illustrates, is no less important in surviving mycobacterial infection than an antigen-specific T-cell response. The formation of a protective granuloma involves the orchestrated production of a host of chemokines and cytokines, the upregulation of their receptors along with upregulation of addressins, selectins and integrins to coordinate the recruitment, migration and retention of cells to and within the granuloma. In the present review, the principal components of the protective response are outlined and the role of granuloma formation and maintenance in mediating prolonged containment of mycobacteria within the lung is addressed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD3 Complex
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / pharmacology
  • Cell Communication
  • Cell Movement
  • Chemokines / immunology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Integrins / immunology
  • Interferon-gamma / deficiency
  • Interferon-gamma / genetics
  • Interferon-gamma / pharmacology
  • Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Lymphocytes / pathology
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis*
  • T-Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Tuberculoma / immunology
  • Tuberculoma / pathology
  • Tuberculosis / immunology*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / immunology


  • CD3 Complex
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Chemokines
  • Integrins
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Interferon-gamma