Chemotactic activity of mycobacterial lipoarabinomannans for human blood T lymphocytes in vitro


A crucial early event in tuberculosis is the ingestion of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) by alveolar macrophages. Chemotactic factors released by infected macrophages are likely to initiate a granulomatous response, a key feature of host resistance to tuberculosis. To date, the role of mycobacterial products in regulating the granulomatous response has not been clearly defined. Here we report that the mycobacterial cell wall glycophospholipid lipoarabinomannan (LAM) could specifically induce human peripheral blood T cell chemotaxis in vitro. Both terminally mannosylated LAM isolated from Mtb and LAM lacking the terminal mannosyl units isolated from an avirulent mycobacterium could induce T cell migration in the absence of serum. In contrast, terminally mannosylated LAM isolated from Mycobacterium bovis BCG failed to induce T cell chemotaxis. These observations represent the first report that LAM is capable of directly inducing biologic responses in human T cells. Flow cytometry analysis revealed that CD4+, CD8+, and CD45RO+ lymphocytes were present in the migrating cell populations at ratios similar to those found in nonmigrating cells. The chemotactic response was found to require new protein synthesis, and could be blocked by inhibitors of protein tyrosine kinases at concentrations that did not affect random migration. Acyl groups at the reducing terminus of LAM appear to be required for the chemotactic activity of this mycobacterial glycolipid. Lastly, culture supernatants from human alveolar macrophages infected in vitro with a virulent strain of Mtb could induce T cell migration. Much of the migratory activity present in these supernatants could be blocked using a mAb against LAM, suggesting that LAM is one of the chemotactic factors released by Mtb- infected alveolar macrophages.

Publication Title

Journal of Immunology

This document is currently not available here.