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Canadian Journal of Infectious Diseases
Volume 4 (1993), Issue 1, Pages 38-42
Original Article

Immunotherapy of Airborne Tuberculosis in Mice Via the Lung-Specific Delivery of Cytokines

Michel Denis1,2 and Esfandiar Ghadirian1,2

1Unité de Recherche Pulmonaire, Centre Hospitalier de l’Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Québec, Canada
2Montreal General Hospital Research Institute, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Received 25 July 1991; Accepted 24 October 1991

Copyright © 1993 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The immunotherapeutic potential of interleukin-2 (IL-2), tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNFα) and interferon gamma (IFN-γ) administered by aerosol was examined on mice infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis by the aerogenic route. Infection of balb/c mice with 104 colony forming units (cfu) of M tuberculosis led to death of all mice at day 35 post infection after progressive microbial growth in the lungs. Aerosolization of IL-2 (100 μg per mouse) did not promote an increase in resistance to tuberculosis, as seen by growth of M tuberculosis in the lungs. Administration of IFN-γ or TNFα (100 μg) by the aerosol route led to a significant reduction in microbial growth in the lungs and a 100% survival of infected mice at day 60. Similarly, aerosolization of TNFα and IFN-γ combined led to a very high degree of tuberculostatic activity in the lungs of infected animals, but not superior to that seen with either cytokine alone. Administration of similar amounts of cytokines by repeated intraperitoneal infusions led to a very marginal improvement in mouse resistance. These results suggest that localized cytokine administration may be beneficial in the treatment of lung diseases.