Levels of anti-cytokine antibodies may be elevated in patients with pulmonary disease associated with non-tuberculous mycobacteria
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Pulmonary disease due to non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) is caused by several species (particularly Mycobacterium avium, Mycobacterium intracellulare) that are abundant in the environment. Th1 cytokines such as interferon (IFN)-γ are important in the control of mycobacteria, but in vitro production of IFN-γ is not deficient in adult patients with pulmonary NTM disease. Antibodies reactive with IFN-γ have been described in patients with disseminated NTM disease, but it is not clear whether they are common in pulmonary disease. Here we show that patients with pulmonary NTM have a higher level of anti-IFN-γ and anti-GM-CSF antibodies than healthy controls, although some controls also have high levels. Levels of anti-IFN-γ antibodies did not correlate with levels of total immunoglobulin. Longitudinal studies are required to determine whether anti-cytokine autoantibodies are consequence rather than a cause of pulmonary NTM disease.
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