The inducible nitric oxide synthase locus confers protection against aerogenic challenge of both clinical and laboratory strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in mice

C. A. Scanga, V. P. Mohan, K. Tanaka, D. Alland, J. L. Flynn, J. Chan

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109 Scopus citations


Murine macrophages effect potent antimycobacterial function via the production of nitric oxide by the inducible isoform of the enzyme nitric oxide synthase (NOS2). The protective role of reactive nitrogen intermediates (RNI) against Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection has been well established in various murine experimental tuberculosis models using laboratory strains of the tubercle bacillus to establish infection by the intravenous route. However, important questions remain about the in vivo importance of RNI in host defense against M. tuberculosis. There is some evidence that RNI play a lesser role following aerogenic, rather than intravenous, M. tuberculosis infection of mice. Furthermore, in vitro studies have demonstrated that different strains of M. tuberculosis, including clinical isolates, vary widely in their susceptibility to the antimycobacterial effects of RNI. Thus, we sought to test rigorously the protective role of RNI against infection with recent clinical isolates of M. tuberculosis following both aerogenic and intravenous challenges. Three recently isolated and unique M. tuberculosis strains were used to infect both wild-type (wt) C57BL/6 and NOS2 gene-disrupted mice. Regardless of the route of infection, NOS2-/- mice were much more susceptible than wt mice to any of the clinical isolates or to either the Erdman or H37Rv laboratory strain of M. tuberculosis. Mycobacteria replicated to much higher levels in the organs of NOS2-/- mice than in those of wt mice. Although the clinical isolates all exhibited enhanced virulence in NOS2-/- mice, they displayed distinct growth rates in vivo. The present study has provided results indicating that RNI are required for the control of murine tuberculous infection caused by both laboratory and clinical strains of M. tuberculosis. This protective role of RNI is essential for the control of infection established by either intravenous or aerogenic challenge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7711-7717
Number of pages7
JournalInfection and Immunity
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 5 2001


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases

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