ANCHOR LEAD: WE NOW KNOW MORE ABOUT HOW TUBERCULOSIS INFECTS PEOPLE, ELIZABETH TRACEY REPORTS
As a disease causing organism, tuberculosis is quite successful, having infected and killed humans for centuries. Now research by William Bishai, a tuberculosis expert at Johns Hopkins, and colleagues, has discerned more of the bacterium’s strategy, beginning with its infection of an immune system heavyweight known as a macrophage.
BISHAI: Mycobacterium tuberculosis goes into macrophages, subverts their cell signaling using cyclic AMP, that leads to a number of problems in immune cell function, one of which is to make too much of a pro-inflammatory cytokine. Indeed we think that under normal infections, one of tuberculosis’ strategies is to create an excess of inflammation and that that excess of inflammation works in the microbe’s favor rather than the immune system’s favor. :29
Bishai says this strategy of inducing an excess of inflammatory factors may be one key to developing a means to eradicate the bug. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.