Mechanisms of immunoresponsiveness against emerging intracellular bacteria

S. Pece, G. Giuliani, D. Fumarola, S. Antonaci, E. Jirillo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this review, the pathogenetic role of emerging intracellular pathogens is emphasised, especially in the case of immunocompromised hosts such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected individuals. Furthermore, the role of different cytokines (CKs) released by both T helper (h)1 and Th2 subsets in the host protection against intracellular pathogens is described. With special reference to CKs produced by macrophages, the contribution of interleukin (IL)-12 in the regulation of TH1 subset function is pointed out. Particular emphasis is placed on two intracellular bacteria, Rhodococcus equi and Bartonella henselae, which have the capacity to survive in the host environment. R. equi is a Gram-positive bacterium of veterinary concern, even if, very recently, it has been isolated from HIV-infected individuals. On the other hand, B. henselae is a Gram-negative bacterium with low endotoxic potency which represents the major causative agent of cat scratch disease. However, increasing evidence also supports the role of B. henselae as the aetiological agent of bacillary parenchimal angiomatosis, frequently observed in conditions of immunosuppression. Finally, the involvement of non-proteinaceous ligands of bacterial origin and/or of exogenous IL-12 in the design of new vaccines against intracellular pathogens is envisaged.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)435-438
Number of pages4
JournalMedical Science Research
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1996


  • Bacillary parenchimal angiomatosis
  • Bartonella henselae
  • Cat scratch disease
  • Cytokines
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
  • Immune response
  • Intracellular bacteria
  • Macrophages
  • Mycobacteria
  • Rhodococcus equi
  • T lymphocytes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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