Immunomodulation with recombinant interferon-γ1b in pulmonary tuberculosis

BACKGROUND: Current treatment regimens for pulmonary tuberculosis require at least 6 months of therapy. Immune adjuvant therapy with recombinant interferon-γ1b (rIFN-γb) may reduce pulmonary inflammation and reduce the period of infectivity by promoting earlier sputum clearance. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We performed a randomized, controlled clinical trial of directly observed therapy (DOTS) versus DOTS supplemented with nebulized or subcutaneously administered rIFN-γ1b over 4 months to 89 patients with cavitary pulmonary tuberculosis. Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) and blood were sampled at 0 and 4 months. There was a significant decline in levels of inflammatory cytokines IL-1β, IL-6, IL-8, and IL-10 in 24-hour BAL supernatants only in the nebulized rIFN-γ1b group from baseline to week 16. Both rIFN-γ1b groups showed significant 3-fold increases in CD4+ lymphocyte response to PPD at 4 weeks. There was a significant (p = 0.03) difference in the rate of clearance of Mtb from the sputum smear at 4 weeks for the nebulized rIFN-γ1b adjuvant group compared to DOTS or DOTS with subcutaneous rIFN-γ1b. In addition, there was significant reduction in the prevalence of fever, wheeze, and night sweats at 4 weeks among patients receiving rFN-γ1b versus DOTS alone. CONCLUSION: Recombinant interferon-γ1b adjuvant therapy plus DOTS in cavitary pulmonary tuberculosis can reduce inflammatory cytokines at the site of disease, improve clearance of Mtb from the sputum, and improve constitutional symptoms. Trial Registration NCT00201123