The Role of Nitric Oxide in Host Defence Against Mycobacterium tuberculosis Clinical and Experimental Studies
Sammanfattning: Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the causative agent of tuberculosis (TB), responsible for significant morbidity and mortality worldwide, especially in low-income countries. Considering aggravating factors, such as HIV co-infection and emerging drug resistance, new therapeutic interventions are urgently needed. Following exposure to M. tuberculosis, surprisingly few individuals will actually develop active disease, indicating effective defence mechanisms. One such candidate is nitric oxide (NO). The role of NO in human TB is not fully elucidated, but has been shown to have a vital role in controlling TB in animal models.The general aim of this thesis was to investigate the role of NO in the immune defence against M. tuberculosis, by combining clinical and experimental studies. In pulmonary TB patients, we found low levels of NO in exhaled air, and low levels of NO metabolites in urine. HIV coinfection decreased levels of exhaled NO even further, reflecting a locally impaired NO production in the lung. Low levels of exhaled NO were associated with a decreased cure rate in HIV-positive TB patients. Household contacts to sputum smear positive TB patient presented the highest levels of both urinary NO metabolites and exhaled NO. Malnutrition, a common condition in TB, may lead to deficiencies of important nutrients such as the amino acid L-arginine, essential for NO production. We therefore assessed the effect of an argininerich food supplement (peanuts) in a clinical trial including pulmonary TB patients, and found that peanut supplementation increased cure rate in HIV-positive TB patients.We also investigated NO susceptibility of clinical strains of M. tuberculosis, and its association to clinical outcome and antibiotic resistance. Patients infected with strains of M. tuberculosis with reduced susceptibility to NO in vitro, showed a tendency towards lower rate of weight gain during treatment. Moreover, there was a clear variability between strains in the susceptibility to NO, and in intracellular survival within NO-producing macrophages. A novel finding, that can be of importance in understanding drug resistance and for drug development, was that reduced susceptibility to NO was associated with resistance to firstline TB drugs, in particular isoniazid and mutations in inhA.Taken together, the data presented here show that NO plays a vital role in human immune defence against TB, and although larger multicentre studies are warranted, arginine-rich food supplementation can be recommended to malnourished HIV co-infected patients on TB treatment.
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