Infection and immunity

Essential engagement of Toll-like receptor 2 in initiation of early protective Th1 response against rough variants of Mycobacterium abscessus.

PMID 25644006


Although Mycobacterium abscessus (M. abscessus) is becoming more prevalent in patients without overt immunodeficiency, little is known about the factors that contribute to disease susceptibility. This study was undertaken to investigate how Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2) functionally contributes to the generation of protective immunity against M. abscessus in a morphotype-specific manner. We found that Tlr2-/- mice were extremely susceptible to an intravenous (i.v.) model of infection by M. abscessus rough variants, displaying uncontrolled infection in the lungs and a significantly lower survival rate than with wild-type (WT) mice. This uncontrolled infection resulted from failures in the following processes: (i) production of the crucial cytokines gamma interferon (IFN-γ), tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), and interleukin 12p70 (IL-12p70); (ii) early infiltration of neutrophils, monocytes, and dendritic cells (DCs) in the lungs of Tlr2-/- mice; (iii) rapid influx of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells; and (iv) the expansion of memory/effector T cells. Notably, systemic administration of M. abscessus culture filtrate-treated syngeneic DCs from WT mice greatly strengthened immune priming in vivo, resulting in a dramatic reduction in bacterial growth and improved long-term survival in Tlr2-/- mice, with a recovery of protective immunity. Our findings demonstrate that TLR2 is an essential contributor to instructive and effector immunity during M. abscessus infection in a morphotype-specific manner.