Impact and prognosis of the expression of IFN-α among tuberculosis patients

Academic Article


  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb) infection stimulates the release of cytokines, including interferons (IFNs). IFNs are initiators, regulators, and effectors of innate and adaptive immunity. Accordingly, the expression levels of Type I (α, β) and II (γ) IFNs, among untreated tuberculosis (TB) patients and household contacts (HHC) clinically free of TB was assessed. A total of 264 individuals (TB patients-123; HHC-86; laboratory volunteers-55; Treated TB patients-36) were enrolled for this study. IFN-α mRNA expression levels predominated compared to IFN-γ and IFN-β among untreated TB patients. IFN-α transcripts were ~3.5 folds higher in TB patients compared to HHC, (p<0.0001). High expression of IFN-α was seen among 46% (56/ 123) of the TB patients and 26%, (22/86) of HHCs. The expression levels of IFN-α correlated with that of IFN transcriptional release factor 7 (IRF) (p<0.0001). In contrast, an inverse relationship exists between PGE2 and IFN-α expression levels; high IFN-α expressers were associated with low levels of PGE2 and vice-versa (Spearman’s rho = -0.563; p<0.0001). In-vitro, IFN-α failed to restrict the replication of intracellular M.tb. The anti-mycobacterial activity of IFN-γ was compromised in the presence of IFN-α, but not by IFN-β. The expression of IFN-α and β diminished or is absent, among successfully treated TB patients. These observations suggest the utility of assessment of Type I IFNs expression levels as a prognostic marker to monitor tuberculosis patient response to chemotherapy because changes in Type I IFNs expression are expected to precede the clearance and /reduction in bacterial load.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • PLoS One  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Taneja V; Kalra P; Goel M; Khilnani GC; Saini V; Prasad GBKS; Gupta UD; Prasad HK
  • Volume

  • 15
  • Issue

  • 7 July