The host immune response can limit Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) spreading in primary tuberculosis (TB) without eradicating all bacilli, which can persist causing latent TB infection and are responsible for reactivation TB. Persistent Mtb is confined to granulomas within phagocytes, but it is also found in other non-immune cells. We focused on fibroblasts since these cells participate to the granuloma formation and were shown to be infected in latent TB infections.We show that in vitro both Mtb and Bacille Calmette-Guérin actively replicate in human fibroblasts. Mycobacterial infection of fibroblasts causes a significant inhibition of interferon (IFN)-γ induced membrane expression of major histocompatibility complex class II molecules in these cells. The functional consequence of in vitro infection is a significant reduction of the fibroblast capacity to present peptides and soluble proteins to autologous specific CD4+ T cell clones. Moreover, fibroblasts are capable of presenting antigen derived from the processing of heat-killed Mtb, but not from viable Mtb. Data indicate that IFN-γ treated fibroblasts are capable of presenting antigens derived from the processing of whole bacteria in addition to the capacity to present peptides and isolated proteins. Interestingly, Mtb infected fibroblasts lose this capacity, suggesting that Mtb may evade T helper immune surveillance by infecting fibroblasts. © 2013 American Society for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics.
- EMTREE drug terms: gamma interferon