The M cell as a portal of entry to the lung for the bacterial pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis

Rachel Teitelbaum, William Schubert, Leslie Gunther, Yvonne Kress, Frank Macaluso, Jeffrey W. Pollard, David N. McMurray, Barry R. Bloom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


M. tuberculosis accesses the terminal lung and is phagocytosed by alveolar macrophages. Utilizing a mouse intratracheal challenge model, we demonstrate that M. tuberculosis rapidly enters through M cells as well. From there, bacilli are deposited within associated intraepithelial leukocytes and subsequently conveyed to the draining lymph nodes early after infection. Osteopetrotic (Csfm(op)/Csfm(op)) mice, null mutants for macrophage colony- stimulating factor, possess diminished numbers of circulating monocytes and tissue macrophages. Csfm(op)/Csfm(op) mice were highly susceptible to challenge with M. tuberculosis. In contrast to controls, tubercle bacilli were not conveyed to draining lymph nodes early after infection but were instead retained within the mucosa. These results indicate that M cells represent an alternate portal of entry for M. tuberculosis, which may contribute to the rapid development of protective lung immune responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)641-650
Number of pages10
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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