American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology

Mycobacterium tuberculosis survives and replicates within human macrophages, but the mechanisms whereby tubercle bacilli resist killing are incompletely understood. We tested the general model in which M. tuberculosis evades killing by entering naive macrophages through receptors that are unable to activate cellular microbicidal activities. Complement receptor types 1 (CR1), 3 (CR3), and 4 (CR4) were blocked with monoclonal antibodies, and mannose receptors were blocked with a competitive ligand, mannosylated bovine serum albumin (MBSA). Survival and replication of M. tuberculosis (Erdman) were evaluated after the bacteria were phagocytosed in the presence of blocking agents (directing binding to the unblocked receptors). Although there was significant variation in the growth rate of virulent M. tuberculosis in monocyte-derived macrophages from different donors, the intracellular survival and replication of mycobacteria were equivalent regardless of the receptor(s) used for binding and phagocytosis. We conclude that the mechanisms whereby M. tuberculosis evades killing by human macrophages are independent of the receptor-mediated route of entry, and operate at one or more steps common to all entry pathways. Blocking complement and mannose receptors in combination did not completely abrogate binding of M. tuberculosis to macrophages. However, we found that two polyanionic scavenger-receptor ligands exhibited a concentration-dependent ability to block binding of M. tuberculosis to macrophages. Moreover, blocking class A scavenger receptors abrogated nearly all binding that persisted after blocking complement and mannose receptors. This indicates that class A scavenger receptors are quantitatively important mediators of M. tuberculosis-macrophage interactions. M. tuberculosis has evolved multiple mechanisms to promote its efficient entry into macrophages. This suggests that passage of the organism through macrophages may be an essential early step in the pathogenesis of tuberculosis.


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American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology

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