Prominent role for T cell-derived tumour necrosis factor for sustained control of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection

Sci Rep. 2013:3:1809. doi: 10.1038/srep01809.


Tumour Necrosis Factor (TNF) is critical for host control of M. tuberculosis, but the relative contribution of TNF from innate and adaptive immune responses during tuberculosis infection is unclear. Myeloid versus T-cell-derived TNF function in tuberculosis was investigated using cell type-specific TNF deletion. Mice deficient for TNF expression in macrophages/neutrophils displayed early, transient susceptibility to M. tuberculosis but recruited activated, TNF-producing CD4(+) and CD8(+) T-cells and controlled chronic infection. Strikingly, deficient TNF expression in T-cells resulted in early control but susceptibility and eventual mortality during chronic infection with increased pulmonary pathology. TNF inactivation in both myeloid and T-cells rendered mice critically susceptible to infection with a phenotype resembling complete TNF deficient mice, indicating that myeloid and T-cells are the primary TNF sources collaborating for host control of tuberculosis. Thus, while TNF from myeloid cells mediates early immune function, T-cell derived TNF is essential to sustain protection during chronic tuberculosis infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Integrases / metabolism
  • Lung / cytology
  • Lung / immunology*
  • Lung / microbiology
  • Macrophages / cytology
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Macrophages / microbiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / immunology*
  • Myeloid Cells / cytology
  • Myeloid Cells / immunology*
  • Myeloid Cells / microbiology
  • Neutrophils / cytology
  • Neutrophils / immunology
  • Neutrophils / microbiology
  • Pneumonia / etiology*
  • Pneumonia / metabolism
  • Pneumonia / pathology
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Signal Transduction
  • Tuberculosis / immunology
  • Tuberculosis / microbiology
  • Tuberculosis / prevention & control*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / physiology*


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Cre recombinase
  • Integrases