Sputum cytokine levels in patients with pulmonary tuberculosis as early markers of mycobacterial clearance

Rodrigo Ribeiro-Rodrigues, Tatiana Resende Co, John L. Johnson, Fabiola Ribeiro, Moises Palaci, Ricardo T. Sá, Ethel L. Maciel, Fausto E. Pereira Lima, Valderio Dettoni, Zahra Toossi, W. Henry Boom, Reynaldo Dietze, Jerrold J. Ellner, Christina S. Hirsch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


Sputum and serum from patients with active pulmonary tuberculosis (TB), healthy purified protein derivative-positive adults, and patients with bacterial pneumonia were collected to simultaneously assess local immunity in the lungs and peripheral blood. To determine whether cytokine profiles in sputum from TB patients and control subjects were a reflection of its cellular composition, cytospin slides were prepared in parallel and assessed for the presence of relative proportions of epithelial cells, neutrophils, macrophages, and T cells. Gamma interferon (IFN-γ) in sputum from TB patients was markedly elevated over levels for both control groups. With anti-TB therapy, IFN-γ levels in sputum from TB patients decreased rapidly and by week 4 of treatment were comparable to those in sputum from controls. Further, IFN-γ levels in sputum closely followed mycobacterial clearance. Although detected at fourfold-lower levels, IFN-γ immunoreactivities in serum followed kinetics in sputum. TNF-γ, interleukin 8 (IL-8) and IL-6 also were readily detected in sputum from TB patients at baseline and responded to anti-TB therapy. In contrast to IFN-γ, however, TNF-γ and IL-8 levels also were elevated in sputum from pneumonia controls. These data indicate that sputum cytokines correlate with disease activity during active TB of the lung and may serve as potential early markers for sputum conversion and response to anti-TB therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)818-823
Number of pages6
JournalClinical and Diagnostic Laboratory Immunology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Immunology
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Microbiology (medical)


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