Open Access Open Badges Research

Interaction between Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Mycobacterium bovis, Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis with the enteric glia and microglial cells

Sara Cannas1*, Paola Molicotti1, Alessandra Bua1, Donatella Usai1, Leonardo A Sechi1, Antonio M Scanu2, Elisabetta Blasi3 and Stefania Zanetti1

Author Affiliations

1 Dipartimento di Scienze Biomediche - Microbiologia Sperimentale e Clinica. Università degli Studi di Sassari, Italy

2 Dipartimento di Medicina Clinica Sperimentale ed Oncologica - Sezione Clinica Chirurgica. Università degli Studi di Sassari, Italy

3 Dipartimento di Scienze di Sanità Pubblica, Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Italy

For all author emails, please log on.

Gut Pathogens 2011, 3:19  doi:10.1186/1757-4749-3-19

Published: 9 December 2011



We investigated the interaction of Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis, M. bovis and M. tuberculosis and different glial cells (enteric glial and microglial cells) in order to evaluate the infecting ability of these microorganisms and the effects produced on these cells, such as the evaluation of cytokines expression.


Our experiments demonstrated the adhesion of M. paratuberculosis to the enteroglial cells and the induction of IL-1A and IL-6 expression; M. tuberculosis and M. bovis showed a good adhesive capability to the enteric cell line with the expression of the following cytokines: IL-1A and IL-1B, TNF-α, G-CSF and GM-CSF; M. bovis induced the expression of IL-6 too.

The experiment performed with the microglial cells confirmed the results obtained with the enteroglial cells after the infection with M. tuberculosis and M. bovis, whereas M. paratuberculosis stimulated the production of IL-1A and IL-1B.


Enteroglial and microglial cells, could be the target of pathogenic mycobacteria and, even if present in different locations (Enteric Nervous System and Central Nervous System), show to have similar mechanism of immunomodulation.

Mycobacteria; enteric glial cells; microglia; cytokines