THE BIOLOGY OF MYCOBACTERIUM TUBERCULOSIS INFECTION.

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Giovanni Delogu
Michela Sali
Giovanni Fadda

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Abstract

Tuberculosis (TB) still poses a major threat to mankind and during the last thirty years we have seen a recrudescence of the disease even in countries where TB was thought to be conquered. It is common opinion that more effective control tools such as new diagnostics, a new vaccine and new drugs are urgently needed to control the global pandemic, though the so far insufficient understanding of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) mechanism of pathogenesis is a major obstacle for the development of these control tools. In this review, we will summarize the recent advancement in the understanding of Mtb biology and on the pathogenesis of Mtb infection with emphasis on latent infection, with the change in paradigm of the last few years where the dichotomy between latent and active disease has been reconsidered in favor of a dynamic equilibrium between the host and the bacilli, encompassing a continuous spectrum of conditions that has been named TB spectrum. Implications for the diagnosis and control of disease in certain population will also be discussed.

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