Distinct Strategies Employed by Dendritic Cells and Macrophages in Restricting Mycobacterium tuberculosis Infection: Different Philosophies but Same Desire

Int Rev Immunol. 2016 Sep 2;35(5):386-398. doi: 10.3109/08830185.2015.1015718. Epub 2015 Mar 20.


Dendritic cells (DCs) and macrophages (Mϕs) are professional antigen-presenting cells (APCs) that can efficiently phagocytose Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), the etiological agent of tuberculosis (TB). It is quite interesting to mention here that DCs and Mϕs use distinct strategies to combat and eliminate Mtb. Similarly, Mtb employs different mechanisms to counteract the action of DCs and Mϕs. Mϕs are evolved with specialized, innate, defensive machinery to restrict growth of Mtb at the initial phase of infection. However, DCs are more endowed toward initiating adaptive immunity by activating naïve T cells. During encounter with Mtb, DCs and Mϕs deliver discrete functions via triggering through different pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) expressed by these APCs. Mtb-infected DCs and Mϕs show differential expression of genes encoding cytokines, chemokines, costimulatory molecules, and adhesion molecules. Interestingly, Mtb impairs the immune defensive machinery by exploiting various PRRs. Remarkably, selective signaling through PRRs by Mtb abrogates the bactericidal activity of Mϕs, but subverts differentiation of monocytes to DCs. In this article, we highlight the role of PRRs in inducing distinct immune response by DCs and Mϕs against Mtb. Concurrently, we also discuss smart strategies exploited by Mtb to impair the function of host DCs and Mϕs.

Keywords: Mycobacterium tuberculosis; chemokines; cytokines; dendritic cells; macrophages; pattern recognition receptors.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity
  • Animals
  • Antigen Presentation
  • Bacteriolysis
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immune Evasion
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Macrophages / immunology*
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / immunology*
  • Receptors, Pattern Recognition / metabolism
  • Tuberculosis / immunology*


  • Receptors, Pattern Recognition