Scientists create model of granuloma development in latent TB infection

Scientists from Ohio State University, have created a new tissue culture model that recreates the development of granuloma – protective immune cells that gather around a cluster of TB bacteria – by adding TB bacterial cells to human white blood cell samples. The model demonstrates both how people are protected from disease during latent TB infection, but also how TB bacteria evade that protection to cause active disease.

Compared to samples from uninfected people, the model containing immune cells from people with latent infection was shown to be more effective. More immune cells were activated, these cells controlled the bacterial load better, and more protective proteins were produced – proteins capable of inhibiting the TB bacteria from using fatty acids and sugars for energy.

But the study showed that a subset of bacteria were able to respond to this immune response by activating genes that changed their metabolism, giving the TB cells a place to thrive and potentially reactivate.

Read the full press release on EurekAlert

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