New concepts in understanding latent tuberculosis

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Purpose of review

Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb), the etiologic agent of tuberculosis, is a prominent global health threat because of the enormous reservoir of subclinical latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI). Current diagnostic approaches are limited in their ability to predict reactivation risk and LTBI is recalcitrant to antibiotic treatment. The present review summarizes recent advances in our ability to detect, treat and model LTBI as well as our understanding of bacterial physiology during latency.

Recent findings

T-cell subsets and circulating proteins have been identified which could serve as biomarkers for LTBI or indicators of reactivation risk. In addition, experimental and in-silico models have enabled discoveries regarding bacterial physiology during latency and the host immune response following infection with latent M.tb.


Despite recent advances, much more research is needed to bolster our ability to detect, implement treatment and model LTBI. The present work is crucial for the eradication of this global problem.

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