Fatal Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection despite adaptive immune response in the absence of MyD88

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Journal of Clinical Investigation

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University of Cape Town

Toll-like receptors (TLRs) such as TLR2 and TLR4 have been implicated in host response to mycobacterial infection. Here, mice deficient in the TLR adaptor molecule myeloid differentiation factor 88 (MyD88) were infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB). While primary MyD88–/– macrophages and DCs are defective in TNF, IL-12, and NO production in response to mycobacterial stimulation, the upregulation of costimulatory molecules CD40 and CD86 is unaffected. Aerogenic infection of MyD88–/– mice with MTB is lethal within 4 weeks with 2 log10 higher CFU in the lung; high pulmonary levels of cytokines and chemokines; and acute, necrotic pneumonia, despite a normal T cell response with IFN-γ production to mycobacterial antigens upon ex vivo restimulation. Vaccination with Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guérin conferred a substantial protection in MyD88–/– mice from acute MTB infection. These data demonstrate that MyD88 signaling is dispensable to raise an acquired immune response to MTB. Nonetheless, this acquired immune response is not sufficient to compensate for the profound innate immune defect and the inability of MyD88–/– mice to control MTB infection.