The determinants of Xpert MTB/RIF sensitivity, a widely used PCR test for the diagnosis of tuberculosis (TB) are poorly understood. We compared culture time-to-positivity (TTP; a surrogate of bacterial load), MTB/RIF TB-specific and internal positive control (IPC)-specific C(T) values, and clinical characteristics in patients with suspected TB who provided expectorated (n = 438) or induced sputum (n = 128), tracheal aspirates (n = 71), bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (n = 152), pleural fluid (n = 76), cerebral spinal fluid (CSF; n = 152), pericardial fluid (n = 131), or urine (n = 173) specimens. Median bacterial load (TTP in days) was the strongest associate of MTB/RIF positivity in each fluid. TTP correlated with C(T) values in pulmonary specimens but not extrapulmonary specimens (Spearman's coefficient 0.5043 versus 0.1437; p = 0.030). Inhibition affected a greater proportion of pulmonary specimens than extrapulmonary specimens (IPC C(T) > 34: 6% (47/731) versus 1% (4/381; p < 0.0001). Pulmonary specimens had greater load than extrapulmonary specimens [TTPs (interquartile range) of 11 (7-16) versus 22 (18-33.5) days; p < 0.0001]. HIV-infection was associated with a decreased likelihood of MTB/RIF-positivity in pulmonary specimens but an increased likelihood in extrapulmonary specimens. Mycobacterial load, which displays significant variation across different body compartments, is the main determinant of MTB/RIF-positivity rather than PCR inhibition. MTB/RIF C(T) is a poor surrogate of load in extrapulmonary specimens.
In BALB/c mice, susceptibility to infection with the intracellular parasite Leishmania major is driven largely by the development of T helper 2 (Th2) responses and the production of interleukin (IL)-4 and IL-13, which share a common receptor subunit, the IL-4 receptor alpha chain (IL-4R?). While IL-4 is the main inducer of Th2 responses, paradoxically, it has been shown that exogenously administered IL-4 can promote dendritic cell (DC) IL-12 production and enhance Th1 development if given early during infection. To further investigate the relevance of biological quantities of IL-4 acting on DCs during in vivo infection, DC specific IL-4R? deficient (CD11c(cre)IL-4R?(-/lox)) BALB/c mice were generated by gene targeting and site-specific recombination using the cre/loxP system under control of the cd11c locus. DNA, protein, and functional characterization showed abrogated IL-4R? expression on dendritic cells and alveolar macrophages in CD11c(cre)IL-4R?(-/lox) mice. Following infection with L. major, CD11c(cre)IL-4R?(-/lox) mice became hypersusceptible to disease, presenting earlier and increased footpad swelling, necrosis and parasite burdens, upregulated Th2 cytokine responses and increased type 2 antibody production as well as impaired classical activation of macrophages. Hypersusceptibility in CD11c(cre)IL-4R?(-/lox) mice was accompanied by a striking increase in parasite burdens in peripheral organs such as the spleen, liver, and even the brain. DCs showed increased parasite loads in CD11c(cre)IL-4R?(-/lox) mice and reduced iNOS production. IL-4R?-deficient DCs produced reduced IL-12 but increased IL-10 due to impaired DC instruction, with increased mRNA expression of IL-23p19 and activin A, cytokines previously implicated in promoting Th2 responses. Together, these data demonstrate that abrogation of IL-4R? signaling on DCs is severely detrimental to the host, leading to rapid disease progression, and increased survival of parasites in infected DCs due to reduced killing effector functions.
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