Secreted lymphotoxin-α is essential for the control of an intracellular bacterial infection

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Experimental Medicine, 2001, 193 (2), pp. 239 - 246
Issue Date:
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Although the essential role of tumor necrosis factor (TNF) in the control of intracellular bacterial infection is well established, it is uncertain whether the related cytokines lymphotoxin-α (LTα3) and lymphotoxin-β (LTβ) have independent roles in this process. Using C57Bl/6 mice in which the genes for these cytokines have been disrupted, we have examined the relative contribution of secreted LTα3 and membrane-bound LTβ in the host response to aerosol Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection. To overcome the lack of peripheral lymph nodes in LTα-/- and LTβ-/- mice, bone marrow chimeric mice were constructed. LTα-/- chimeras, which lack both secreted LTα3 and membrane-bound LTβ (LTα1β2 and LTα2β1), were highly susceptible and succumbed 5 wk after infection. LTβ-/- chimeras, which lack only the membrane-bound LTβ, controlled the infection in a comparable manner to wild-type (WT) chimeric mice. T cell responses to mycobacterial antigens and macrophage responses in LTα-/- chimeras were equivalent to those of WT chimeras, but in LTα-/- chimeras, granuloma formation was abnormal. LTα-/- chimeras recruited normal numbers of T cells into their lungs, but the lymphocytes were restricted to perivascular and peribronchial areas and were not colocated with macrophages in granulomas. Therefore, LTα3 is essential for the control of pulmonary tuberculosis, and its critical role lies not in the activation of T cells and macrophages per se but in the local organization of the granulomatous response.
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