Initiation and regulation of T-cell responses in tuberculosis

Mucosal Immunol. 2011 May;4(3):288-93. doi: 10.1038/mi.2011.10. Epub 2011 Mar 30.


Tuberculosis (TB) poses a great challenge to immunologists, as it represents a chronic infection characterized by persistence of the pathogen despite development of antigen-specific immune responses. Among the characteristics of adaptive immune responses to Mycobacterium tuberculosis is a delay in the onset of detectable T-cell responses, in both humans and experimental animals. Recent studies have revealed mechanisms that contribute to this delay, including pathogen inhibition of apoptosis, delayed migration of dendritic cells from the lungs to the local lymph node, and influence of regulatory T cells. In addition, novel features of M. tuberculosis antigen-specific T-cell differentiation have been discovered, which reveal pathways that limit and promote immune control of infection. Taken together, these results highlight the need for additional basic research and provide optimism for the development of TB vaccines with greater efficacy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Movement
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immune Evasion
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / immunology*
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / pathogenicity
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology*
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / immunology*
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / microbiology