The mechanisms leading to granuloma caseation, a hallmark of tuberculosis (TB) in humans, are poorly understood. Lung histopathology of C57BL/6 (WT) mice 16 weeks after aerosol infection with Mycobacterium avium strain TMC724 is uniquely characterized by centrally necrotizing granulomas, strongly resembling human TB lesions. However, IFN-gamma-deficient (GKO) and IFN-gamma-receptor-deficient (GRKO) mice did not develop granuloma necrosis following M. avium infection. Comparison of differentially expressed genes in infected WT and GKO lungs by DNA microarray and RNase protection assays revealed that the angiostatic chemokines CXCL9-11 were significantly reduced in GKO mice. In contrast, angiogenic mediators such as angiopoietin and vascular endothelial growth factor, and angiogenic chemokines such as CXCL2, CCL3, and CCL4, remained unchanged or were expressed at higher levels than in infected WT mice, suggesting impaired neovascularization of the granuloma as a possible mechanism for caseation in WT mice. Granuloma vascularization was significantly decreased in central, but not peripheral, areas of granulomas of infected WT compared to GKO mice. In contrast to GRKO mice, WT mice showed signs of severe hypoxia in cells immediately surrounding the necrotic core of granulomas as measured immunohistochemically with a reagent detecting pimonidazole adducts. To test the hypothesis that CXCR3, the common receptor for the angiostatic chemokines CXCL9-11, is involved in granuloma caseation, histomorphology was assessed in M. avium-infected mice deficient for CXCR3 (CXCR3-KO). 16 weeks after infection, these mice developed caseating granulomas similar to WT mice. We conclude that IFN-gamma causes a dysbalance between angiostatic and angiogenic mediators and a concomitant reduction in granuloma vascularization, but that CXCR3-targeted chemokines are not sufficient to induce granuloma necrosis in a mouse model of mycobacteria-induced immunopathology.
Copyright (c) 2007 Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.