The value of transcriptomics in advancing knowledge of the immune response and diagnosis in tuberculosis

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Blood transcriptomics analysis of tuberculosis has revealed an interferon-inducible gene signature that diminishes in expression after successful treatment; this promises improved diagnostics and treatment monitoring, which are essential for the eradication of tuberculosis. Sensitive radiography revealing lung abnormalities and blood transcriptomics have demonstrated heterogeneity in patients with active tuberculosis and exposed asymptomatic people with latent tuberculosis, suggestive of a continuum of infection and immune states. Here we describe the immune response to infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis revealed through the use of transcriptomics, as well as differences among clinical phenotypes of infection that might provide information on temporal changes in host immunity associated with evolving infection. We also review the diverse blood transcriptional signatures, composed of small sets of genes, that have been proposed for the diagnosis of tuberculosis and the identification of at-risk asymptomatic people and suggest novel approaches for the development of such biomarkers for clinical use.

Journal details

Volume 19
Issue number 11
Pages 1159-1168
Available online
Publication date