Role of mycobacteria-induced monocyte/macrophage apoptosis in the pathogenesis of human tuberculosis

Marialuisa Bocchino, D. Galati, A. Sanduzzi, V. Colizzi, E. Brunetti, G. Mancino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Apoptosis is a physiological programmed cell death process whose dysregulation plays an important role in different human infectious diseases. An increasing number of intracellular pathogens are known to induce target cell apoptosis, while some other parasites inhibit it. Unlike necrosis, apoptosis is a silent immunological event occurring without inflammation. Infection-induced target cell apoptosis may be a successful strategy to eliminate pathogens and assure host survival. Conversely, apoptosis inhibition could represent an adaptive mechanism for pathogen survival, while it may be beneficial for the host to initiate an effective immune response. The worldwide increase in tuberculosis has stimulated more research aimed at defining the interaction between Mycobacterium tuberculosis and the immune system. M. tuberculosis possesses sophisticated strategies to circumvent its fate within target monocytic cells. Apoptosis of alveolar macrophages and monocytes has been described as a consequence of M. tuberculosis infection. Moreover, the observation that mycobacterial lipoproteins activate macrophages through Toll-like receptor (TLR) 2 suggests that innate immune receptors contribute to defence against M. tuberculosis. There is evidence that TLR-induced apoptosis modulates inflammation and immune activation during M. tuberculosis infection. Finally, the role of apoptotic-infected cells as a source of microbial antigens for cross-priming of effector T-cells is also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)375-383
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2005


  • Apoptosis
  • Macrophages
  • Monocytes
  • Mycobacteria
  • Tuberculosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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