Tuberculosis remains the biggest infectious threat to humanity with one-third of the population infected and 1.4 million deaths and 8.7 million new cases annually. Current tuberculosis therapy is lengthy and consists of multiple antimicrobials, which causes poor compliance and high treatment dropout, resulting in the development of drug-resistant variants of tuberculosis. Therefore, alternate methods to treat tuberculosis are urgently needed. Mycobacterium tuberculosis evades host immune responses by inducing T helper (Th)2 and regulatory T (Treg) cell responses, which diminish protective Th1 responses. Here, we show that animals (Stat-6(-/-)CD4-TGFβRIIDN mice) that are unable to generate both Th2 cells and Tregs are highly resistant to M. tuberculosis infection. Furthermore, simultaneous inhibition of these two subsets of Th cells by therapeutic compounds dramatically reduced bacterial burden in different organs. This treatment was associated with the generation of protective Th1 immune responses. As these therapeutic agents are not directed to the harbored organisms, they should avoid the risk of promoting the development of drug-resistant M. tuberculosis variants.
© 2014 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.