Indexed on: 04 Feb '14Published on: 04 Feb '14Published in: PloS one
The mechanisms by which mycobacteria subvert the inflammatory defence to establish chronic infection remain an unresolved question in the pathogenesis of tuberculosis. Using primary epithelial cells, we have analysed mycobacteria induced epithelial signalling pathways from activation of TLRs to cytokine secretion. Mycobacterium bovis bacilli Calmette-Guerin induced phosphorylation of glycogen synthase kinase (GSK)3 by PI3K-Akt in the signalling pathway downstream of TLR2 and TLR4. Mycobacteria did not suppress NF-κB by activating the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ. Instead the pro-inflammatory NF-κB was bypassed by mycobacteria induced GSK3 inhibition that promoted the anti-inflammatory transcription factor CREB. Mycobacterial infection did not thus induce mucosal pro-inflammatory response as measured by TNFα and IFNγ secretion, but led to an anti-inflammatory IL-10 and IL-22 production. Apart from CREB, MAP3Ks p38 and ERK1/2 activated the transcription factor AP-1 leading to IL-6 production. Interestingly, blocking of TLR4 before infection decreased epithelial IL-6 secretion, but increased the CREB-activated IL-10 production. Our data indicate that mycobacteria suppress epithelial pro-inflammatory production by suppressing NF-κB activation thereby shifting the infection towards an anti-inflammatory state. This balance between the host immune response and the pathogen could determine the outcome of infection.