Cytotoxic T lymphocytes in resistance to tuberculosis

Adv Exp Med Biol. 1998:452:85-101. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4615-5355-7_11.


Recent experimental evidence has suggested T cells recognizing antigens in the context of both classical MHC class I and nonclassical class I-like molecules contribute to protective responses against Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) infection. Our aims were to characterize both types of T cells, and to explore the basis of communication between the tubercle bacilli and the MHC class I pathway of the host macrophage. A model system was developed using exogenously added ovalbumin as a surrogate antigen to study presentation by MTB-infected macrophages. Viable, virulent MTB and closely related mycobacterial species facilitated the presentation of ovalbumin on MHC class I molecules to CD8+ cytolytic T cells that was dependent upon the cytosolic transport of peptides, implying communication between the MTB phagosome and the host cell cytoplasm. MHC class I presentation of soluble antigens was mimicked by Listeria monocytogenes, which grows within the host cell cytoplasm, as well as its purified hemolysin. We have also characterized T cells that recognize nonpeptide MTB antigens presented by CD1 molecules. CD1-restricted T cells demonstrated to lyse macrophages infected with virulent MTB were divided into distinct subsets based on surface phenotype (CD4-CD8- versus CD8-) and cytotoxicity mechanism (Fas receptor-mediated versus granule exocytosis). A functional consequence of these two mechanisms was observed that while both subsets lysed infected macrophages, only those T cells utilizing the granule exocytosis pathway were able to reduce viability of intracellular MTB.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigen Presentation*
  • Antigens, Bacterial / immunology
  • Disease Susceptibility / immunology
  • Humans
  • Major Histocompatibility Complex / immunology*
  • Mycobacterium / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / immunology*
  • Tuberculosis / immunology*


  • Antigens, Bacterial