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Phagocytosis and cytokine response to rough and smooth colony variants of Mycobacterium abscessus by human peripheral blood mononuclear cells

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Mycobacterium abscessus is a non‐tuberculous mycobacteria able to cause opportunistic infections in selected patient groups. During the last decades it has emerged as a cause of chronic pulmonary infection in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF). M. abscessus strains exhibit either smooth or rough colony morphology. Strains exhibiting the rough phenotype more often cause pulmonary infections in CF patients than did the smooth ones. Here, we examined phagocytosis and production of cytokines by human peripheral blood mononuclear cells, in response to M. abscessus strains with smooth and rough colony phenotype. The rough isolates all formed multicellular cords, similar to what is observed in Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Monocytes were generally unable to internalize these rough cord isolates, in contrast with the smooth ones. Furthermore, the rough M. abscessus strains induced a distinct cytokine profile differing from that induced by the smooth ones. Rough isolates induced significantly less IL‐10 and tumour necrosis factor compared to smooth strains, but more IL‐1β. Both varieties induced equal amounts of IFN‐γ, IL‐17, IL‐23, IL‐6, IL‐8 and equally little IL‐12. The ability to withstand phagocytosis might be a virulence factor contributing to the capacity of rough M. abscessus strains to give persistent pulmonary infections.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2013-01-01

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