New pathways of protective and pathological host defense to mycobacteria

Trends Microbiol. 2012 Sep;20(9):419-28. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2012.06.002. Epub 2012 Jul 10.


Recent studies have uncovered new mechanisms by which the human immune system attempts to control infection and how pathogens elude these mechanisms. Mycobacterial infections are prime examples of chronic battle fields between host and pathogens. The study of tuberculosis and related mycobacterial infectious diseases such as leprosy have greatly aided in deciphering mechanisms of immune mediated protection and pathology in humans. Here we review recent insights into the role of newly discovered T cell subsets including Th17, Tregs and nonclassically restricted T cells in adaptive immunity to mycobacteria. The role of newly discovered innate immune mechanisms in tuberculosis and leprosy along with recent results from 'unbiased' genome-wide and functional genetic approaches, are deciphering critical host pathways in human infectious disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Disease Resistance / genetics
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions / genetics
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Leprosy / genetics
  • Leprosy / immunology*
  • Mycobacterium / physiology*
  • Mycobacterium Infections / genetics
  • Mycobacterium Infections / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology