Increased Foxp3 expression in guinea pigs infected with W-Beijing strains of M. tuberculosis.
There is increasing evidence that clinical isolates of Mycobacterium tuberculosis that belong to the W-Beijing genotype of newly emerging strains are often of very high virulence when tested in small animal models, including the mouse and guinea pig. In this report we provide further evidence to support this contention, and show that two W-Beijing strains are of very high virulence when introduced by low dose aerosol into outbred guinea pigs. In addition to severe lung pathology, each of these infections was associated with large influxes of activated CD4 and CD8 T cells into the lungs. Large influxes of macrophages were also observed, but the fraction of these showing evidence of activation by Class-II expression was relatively low. A progressive increase in neutrophils was also seen, with highest levels accumulating in the lungs of the W-Beijing infected animals. In the case of these two infections mRNA levels for TH1 cytokines was elevated early, but these then declined, and were replaced by increasing levels of message encoding for Foxp3, IL-10, and TGFβ. These observations support the hypothesis that W-Beijing strains are potent inducers of regulatory T cells, and that this event may enhance survival and transmission of these bacilli.