Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) causing tuberculosis as an intracellular pathogen initially infects alveolar macrophages following aerosol inhalation. Thus, macrophages play a critical role in the establishment of Mtb infection and macrophage cell death, a common outcome during Mtb infection, may initiate host- or pathogen-favored immune responses, resulting in facilitating protection or pathogenesis, respectively. In addition, virulent Mtb strains are known to inhibit apoptosis and consequently down-regulates immune response using a variety of strategies. In many recent studies have shown that virulent Mtb can either augment or reduce apoptosis by regulating expression of pro-apoptotic and anti-apoptotic proteins belonging to Bcl-2 family proteins. In this review, we will discuss and dissect the apoptotic pathways of Bcl-2 family proteins in Mtb-infected macrophages.
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