Nav: Home

TB tricks the body's immune system to allow it to spread

October 20, 2016

Tuberculosis (TB) tricks the immune system into attacking the body's lung tissue so the bacteria are allowed to spread to other people, new research from the University of Southampton suggests.

The concept, published in Trends in Immunology, proposes that current ideas about how tuberculosis develops in patients may be incomplete and that, in fact, infection causes autoimmunity, where the immune system reacts incorrectly to its own tissue.

Tuberculosis kills more people than any other infectious disease, and the causative bacterium, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, is becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics used to treat the infection.

The Southampton research team conducted a review of published studies and found evidence suggesting that an autoimmunity process develops in TB.

Professor Paul Elkington, of the University of Southampton, who led the project, said "We are not disputing that the immune system mainly targets the bacteria to fight it off, but we are suggesting that there is more to the story.

"It seems that TB tricks the immune system into damaging our own lung tissue, which therefore makes the person highly infectious through coughing and the TB then spreads by aerosol droplets to other individuals.

"There is also a group of patients who develop a range of symptoms, such as eye inflammation, joint inflammation and skin rashes, that are not explained by current TB disease concepts. These symptoms are usually associated with diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease, which led us to believe autoimmunity plays a key role in the TB disease process."

Professor Elkington highlights that more research is needed to investigate the hypothesis but if it is proved, the discovery could have major implications for the design of new vaccines and drug treatments.

The Southampton team are now undertaking a programme of work to investigate this new concept. Their approach is to combine the study of cells isolated from TB-infected patients with micro-engineering in 3D in the laboratory to investigate how TB damages the lungs.
-end-


University of Southampton

Related Immune System Articles:

The immune system may explain skepticism towards immigrants
There is a strong correlation between our fear of infection and our skepticism towards immigrants.
New insights on how pathogens escape the immune system
The bacterium Salmonella enterica causes gastroenteritis in humans and is one of the leading causes of food-borne infectious diseases.
Understanding how HIV evades the immune system
Monash University (Australia) and Cardiff University (UK) researchers have come a step further in understanding how the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) evades the immune system.
Carbs during workouts help immune system recovery
Eating carbohydrates during intense exercise helps to minimise exercise-induced immune disturbances and can aid the body's recovery, QUT research has found.
A new model for activation of the immune system
By studying a large protein (the C1 protein) with X-rays and electron microscopy, researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark have established a new model for how an important part of the innate immune system is activated.
Guards of the human immune system unraveled
Dendritic cells represent an important component of the immune system: they recognize and engulf invaders, which subsequently triggers a pathogen-specific immune response.
How our immune system targets TB
Researchers have seen, for the very first time, how the human immune system recognizes tuberculosis (TB).
How a fungus inhibits the immune system of plants
A newly discovered protein from a fungus is able to suppress the innate immune system of plants.
A new view of the immune system
Pathogen epitopes are fragments of bacterial or viral proteins. Nearly a third of all existing human epitopes consist of two different fragments.
TB tricks the body's immune system to allow it to spread
Tuberculosis tricks the immune system into attacking the body's lung tissue so the bacteria are allowed to spread to other people, new research from the University of Southampton suggests.

Related Immune System Reading:

The Immune System, 4th Edition
by Peter Parham (Author)

How the Immune System Works (The How it Works Series)
by Lauren M. Sompayrac (Author)

Basic Immunology: Functions and Disorders of the Immune System
by Abul K. Abbas MBBS (Author), Andrew H. H. Lichtman MD PhD (Author), Shiv Pillai MBBS PhD (Author)

The Immune System Recovery Plan: A Doctor's 4-Step Program to Treat Autoimmune Disease
by Susan Blum (Author), Mark Hyman (Foreword), Michele Bender (Foreword)

The Immune System: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
by Paul Klenerman (Author)

The Immune System, 3rd Edition
by Peter Parham (Author)

The Complete Anti-Inflammatory Diet for Beginners: A No-Stress Meal Plan with Easy Recipes to Heal the Immune System
by Dorothy Calimeris (Author), Lulu Cook (Author)

A Guide to Transfer Factors and Immune System Health: 2nd edition, Helping the body heal itself by strengthening cell-mediated immunity
by Aaron White PhD (Author)

The Immune System Cure: Optimize Your Immune System in 30 Days-The Natural Way!
by Lorna Vanderheaghe (Author)

Boost Your Immune System: 7 Steps You Can Start TODAY To Regain Your Health and Prevent Disease (Book 1)
by InterConnections, LLC

Best Science Podcasts 2018

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2018. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Where Joy Hides
When we focus so much on achievement and success, it's easy to lose sight of joy. This hour, TED speakers search for joy in unexpected places, and explain why it's crucial to a fulfilling life. Speakers include inventor Simone Giertz, designer Ingrid Fetell Lee, journalist David Baron, and musician Meklit Hadero.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#500 500th Episode
This week we turn 500! To celebrate, we're taking the opportunity to go off format, talk about the journey through 500 episodes, and answer questions from our lovely listeners. Join hosts Bethany Brookshire and Rachelle Saunders as we talk through the show's history, how we've grown and changed, and what we love about the Science for the People. Here's to 500 more episodes!