Induction of β-defensins by l-isoleucine as novel immunotherapy in experimental murine tuberculosis

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SummaryTuberculosis is a worldwide health problem, and multidrug-resistant (MDR) and extensively multidrug-resistant (XMDR) strains are rapidly emerging and threatening the control of this disease. These problems motivate the search for new treatment strategies. One potential strategy is immunotherapy using cationic anti-microbial peptides. The capacity of l-isoleucine to induce beta-defensin expression and its potential therapeutic efficiency were studied in a mouse model of progressive pulmonary tuberculosis. BALB/c mice were infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis strain H37Rv or with a MDR clinical isolate by the intratracheal route. After 60 days of infection, when disease was in its progressive phase, mice were treated with 250 μg of intratracheal l-isoleucine every 48 h. Bacillary loads were determined by colony-forming units, protein and cytokine gene expression were determined by immunohistochemistry and reverse transcription–quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT–qPCR), respectively, and tissue damage was quantified by automated morphometry. Administration of l-isoleucine induced a significant increase of beta-defensins 3 and 4 which was associated with decreased bacillary loads and tissue damage. This was seen in animals infected with the antibiotic-sensitive strain H37Rv and with the MDR clinical isolate. Thus, induction of beta-defensins might be a potential therapy that can aid in the control of this significant infectious disease.

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