Airway delivery of interferon-γ overexpressing macrophages confers resistance to Mycobacterium avium infection in SCID mice

Rajamouli Pasula, Bradley E. Britigan, Banurekha Kesavalu, Maher Y. Abdalla, William J. Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Mycobacterium avium (M. avium) causes significant pulmonary infection, especially in immunocompromised hosts. Alveolar macrophages (AMs) represent the first line of host defense against infection in the lung. Interferon gamma (IFN-γ) activation of AMs enhances in vitro killing of pathogens such as M. avium. We hypothesized that airway delivery of AMs into the lungs of immunodeficient mice infected with M. avium will inhibit M. avium growth in the lung and that this macrophage function is in part IFN-γ dependent. In this study, normal BALB/c and BALB/c SCID mice received M. avium intratracheally while on mechanical ventilation. After 30 days, M. avium numbers increased in a concentration-dependent manner in SCID mice compared with normal BALB/c mice. Airway delivery of IFN-γ-activated BALB/c AMs or J774A.1 macrophages overexpressing IFN-γ into the lungs of SCID mice resulted in a significant decrease in M. avium growth (P < 0.01, both comparisons) and limited dissemination to other organs. In addition, airway delivery of IFN-γ activated AMs and macrophages overexpressing IFN-γ increased the levels of IFN-γ and TNF-α in SCID mice. A similar protective effect against M. avium infection using J774A.1 macrophages overexpressing IFN-γ was observed in IFN-γ knockout mice. These data suggest that administration of IFN-γ activated AMs or macrophages overexpressing IFN-γ may partially restore local alveolar host defense against infections like M. avium, even in the presence of ongoing systemic immunosuppression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere13008
JournalPhysiological Reports
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016


  • Alveolar macrophages
  • Immunosuppression
  • Interferon gamma
  • M. avium
  • Reconstitution
  • Ventilation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)

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