Tuberculosis: a problem with persistence

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2003 Nov;1(2):97-105. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro749.


Mycobacterium tuberculosis is one of most successful pathogens of mankind, infecting one-third of the global population and claiming two million lives every year. The ability of the bacteria to persist in the form of a long-term asymptomatic infection, referred to as latent tuberculosis, is central to the biology of the disease. The persistence of bacteria in superficially normal tissue was recognized soon after the discovery of the tubercle bacillus, and much of our knowledge about persistent populations of M. tuberculosis dates back to the first half of the last century. Recent advances in microbial genetics and host immunity provide an opportunity for renewed investigation of this persistent threat to human health.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Humans
  • Lung / microbiology
  • Lymph Nodes / microbiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / physiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / immunology*
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / microbiology*