Cytokine Response to Antigen Stimulation of Whole Blood from Patients with Mycobacterium ulcerans Disease Compared to That from Patients with Tuberculosis

Mycobacterium ulcerans disease (Buruli ulcer) is a skin-ulcerating infection common in some parts of the tropics. We have investigated cytokine secretion after stimulation of whole blood from Buruli ulcer (BU) patients in a region of endemicity in Ghana with M. ulcerans sonicate or culture filtrate antigens to investigate the development of the response over time and its specificity by comparison with the response to Mycobacterium tuberculosis sonicate in human immunodeficiency virus-negative tuberculosis patients. Significant gamma interferon (IFN- ) production in response to whole-blood stimulation with M. ulcerans sonicate was detected in patients with ulcers, which was higher than that in patients with nodules but similar to subjects with healed BU. The mean IFN- response in household contacts of BU patients was not significantly different from that in healthy control subjects from an area of nonendemicity. Results in patients with untreated, smear-positive pulmonary tuberculosis and tuberculosis patients on treatment for more than 2 weeks showed that BU patients responded better to M. ulcerans antigens than tuberculosis patients. In contrast, interleukin-10 results were higher in patients with active M. ulcerans disease than in those with healed lesions, but the pattern of response was similar to that seen in tuberculosis. A similar pattern of cytokine secretion was found using M. tuberculosis sonicate as an antigen. Neither of the two culture filtrate antigens of M. ulcerans appeared to be more specific than M. ulcerans sonicate. In the early stages of M. ulcerans disease there was a mixed Th1 and Th2 cytokine response, but the Th1 response emerged as the dominant type.
An article by American Society for Microbiology
American Society for Microbiology Vol. 13, No. 2 p. 253–257