Tuberculosis bacteria produce cough-triggering molecule
The bacteria that cause the deadly lung disease tuberculosis appear to facilitate their own spread by producing a molecule that triggers cough, a new study led by UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers shows. The findings, published online today, in Cell, could lead to new ways to prevent the spread of tuberculosis, which is responsible for the death of more than 1.5 million people per year worldwide. Read More on the UTSW News Site
People have known since ancient times that coughing is a primary symptom of tuberculosis and that cough allows for the spread of disease from person to person. However, the cause of tuberculosis-related coughs has been unclear says study leader Michael Shiloh, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor in UTSW’s Department of Internal Medicine’s Division of Infectious Disease and Department of Microbiology. The prevailing hypothesis has been that coughing is triggered by infection-induced lung irritation and inflammation, but this has never been definitively proved.
Shiloh and his colleagues had a different idea: They speculated that the bacterial agent that causes tuberculosis, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, itself might produce a substance that triggers nerves in the airway responsible for causing someone with the disease to cough, thereby allowing for propagation of disease.