Exacerbation of Mycobacterium avium pulmonary infection by comorbid allergic asthma is associated with diminished mycobacterium-specific Th17 responses

Yeeun Bak, Sang Chul Park, Dahee Shim, Yura Ha, Jumi Lee, Hongmin Kim, Kee Woong Kwon, Joo Heon Yoon, Sung Jae Shin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Accumulating evidence suggests that two chronic respiratory diseases, nontuberculous mycobacterium (NTM)-pulmonary disease (PD) and allergic asthma, are frequently present together and that they likely influence the disease development and progression of each other. However, their precise interactions regarding the pathogenesis of comorbid diseases versus that of individual diseases are not well understood. In this study, comorbid diseases (i.e., Mycobacteria avium (Mav) pulmonary infection (PI) (Mav-PI) and ovalbumin-induced allergic asthma) were established in mice in different orders and at different time periods. Individual disease-specific characteristics, including alterations in immune cell populations and antigen-specific immune responses, were analyzed and compared. To assess Mav-PI pathogenesis, lung inflammation and bacterial burden levels were also determined. Allergic asthma induction in the presence of Mav-PI markedly aggravated Mav-PI pathogenesis by increasing the bacterial burden and the severity of lung inflammation. Interestingly, the general outcome of allergic asthma with goblet cell hyperplasia was alleviated at a chronic stage in the comorbid mouse model. Overall, the increase in the number of Mav CFUs was inversely correlated with the Mav-specific Th17 response, as confirmed by comparing BALB/c and C57BL/6J mice. Overall, the pathogenesis of existing Mav-PI is more severely affected by allergen exposure than vice versa. This Mav-PI exacerbation is associated with disruption of Mav-specific Th17 responses. This study provides the first evidence that the Mav-specific Th17 response plays an important role in the control of Mav pathogenesis in the presence of allergic asthma, indicating that targeting the Th17 response has therapeutic potential for NTM-PD accompanied by allergic asthma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2546-2561
Number of pages16
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the Global Research Laboratory (GRL) Program [2016K1A1A2910779] of the National Research Foundation (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Science; Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and the Korea Health Technology R&D Project through the Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI), funded by the Ministry of Health & Welfare [HI20C0017], Korea.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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