Tuberculosis is one of the most important infectious diseases worldwide. The susceptibility to this disease depends to a great extent on the innate immune response against mycobacteria. Host defense peptides (HDP) are one of the first barriers to counteract infection. Cathelicidin (LL-37) is an HDP that has many immunomodulatory effects besides its weak antimicrobial activity. Despite advances in the study of the innate immune response in tuberculosis, the immunological role of LL-37 during M. tuberculosis infection has not been clarified. Monocyte-derived macrophages were infected with M. tuberculosis strain H37Rv and then treated with 1, 5, or 15 μg/ml of exogenous LL-37 for 4, 8, and 24 h. Exogenous LL-37 decreased tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and interleukin-17 (IL-17) while inducing anti-inflammatory IL-10 and transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) production. Interestingly, the decreased production of anti-inflammatory cytokines did not reduce antimycobacterial activity. These results are consistent with the concept that LL-37 can modulate the expression of cytokines during mycobacterial infection and this activity was independent of the P2X7 receptor. Thus, LL-37 modulates the response of macrophages during infection, controlling the expression of proinflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases