Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 511 (1) 117-121 [2019-03-26; online 2019-02-14]
The effect of corticosteroids on human physiology is complex and their use in tuberculosis patients remains controversial. In a high-throughput screening approach designed to discover virulence inhibitors, several corticosteroids were found to prevent cytolysis of fibroblasts infected with mycobacteria. Further experiments with Mycobacterium tuberculosis showed anti-cytolytic activity in the 10 nM range, but no effect on bacterial growth or survival in the absence of host cells at 20 μM. The results from a panel of corticosteroids with various affinities to the glucocorticoid- and mineralocorticoid receptors indicate that the inhibition of cytolysis most likely is mediated through the glucocorticoid receptor. Using live-imaging of M. tuberculosis-infected human monocyte-derived macrophages, we also show that corticosteroids to some extent control intracellular bacteria. In vitro systems with reduced complexity are to further study and understand the interactions between bacterial infection, immune defense and cell signaling.