Immunotherapy Added to Antibiotic Treatment Reduces Relapse of Disease in a Mouse Model of Tuberculosis

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Immune-modulating drugs that target myeloid-derived suppressor cells or stimulate natural killer T cells have been shown to reduce mycobacterial loads in tuberculosis (TB). We aimed to determine if a combination of these drugs as adjunct immunotherapy to conventional antibiotic treatment could also increase therapeutic efficacy against TB. In our model of pulmonary TB in mice, we applied treatment with isoniazid, rifampicin, and pyrazinamide for 13 weeks alone or combined with immunotherapy consisting of all-trans retinoic acid, 1,25(OH)2-vitamin D3, and α-galactosylceramide. Outcome parameters were mycobacterial load during treatment (therapeutic activity) and 13 weeks after termination of treatment (therapeutic efficacy). Moreover, cellular changes were analyzed using flow cytometry and cytokine expression was assessed at the mRNA and protein levels. Addition of immunotherapy was associated with lower mycobacterial loads after 5 weeks of treatment and significantly reduced relapse of disease after a shortened 13-week treatment course compared with antibiotic treatment alone. This was accompanied by reduced accumulation of immature myeloid cells in the lungs at the end of treatment and increased TNF-α protein levels throughout the treatment period. We demonstrate, in a mouse model of pulmonary TB, that immunotherapy consisting of three clinically approved drugs can improve the therapeutic efficacy of standard antibiotic treatment.


Chemistry and Geology

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American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology