Substantial differences exist in virulence among Mycobacterium tuberculosis strains in preclinical TB models. In this study we show how virulence affects host responses in mice during the first four weeks of infection with a mycobacterial strain belonging to the Beijing, East-African-Indian or Euro-American lineage. BALB/c mice were infected with clinical isolates of the Beijing-1585 strain or the East-African Indian (EAI)-1627 strain and host responses were compared to mice infected with the non-clinical H37Rv strain of the Euro-American lineage. We found that H37Rv induced a 'classical' T-cell influx with high IFN-γ levels, while Beijing-1585 and EAI-1627 induced an influx of B-cells into the lungs together with elevated pulmonary IL-4 protein levels. Myeloid cells in the lungs appeared functionally impaired upon infection with Beijing-1585 and EAI-1627 with reduced iNOS and IL-12 expression levels compared to H37Rv infection. This impairment might be related to significantly reduced expression in the bone marrow of IFN-γ, TNF-α and IFN-β in mice infected with Beijing-1585 and EAI-1627, which could be detected from the third day post infection onwards. Our findings suggest that increased virulence of two clinical isolates compared to H37Rv is associated with a fundamentally different systemic immune response, which already can be detected early during infection.

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Journal Scientific Reports
Mourik, B.C, de Steenwinkel, J.E.M, de Knegt, G.J, Huizinga, R, Verbon, A. (Annelies), Ottenhoff, T.H.M, … Leenen, P.J.M. (2019). Mycobacterium tuberculosis clinical isolates of the Beijing and East-African Indian lineage induce fundamentally different host responses in mice compared to H37Rv. Scientific Reports, 9(1). doi:10.1038/s41598-019-56300-6