IMR Press / FBS / Volume 14 / Issue 1 / DOI: 10.31083/j.fbs1401006
Open Access Review
TB and COVID-19: An Exploration of the Characteristics and Resulting Complications of Co-infection
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1 College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific, Western University of Health Sciences, Pomona, CA 91766-1854, USA
*Correspondence: (Vishwanath Venketaraman)
Academic Editor: Gustavo Caetano-Anollés
Front. Biosci. (Schol Ed) 2022, 14(1), 006;
Submitted: 26 November 2021 | Revised: 8 February 2022 | Accepted: 8 February 2022 | Published: 1 March 2022
Copyright: © 2022 The Author(s). Published by IMR Press.
This is an open access article under the CC BY 4.0 license.

Tuberculosis (TB) and Coronavirus Disease-19 (COVID-19) infection are two respiratory diseases that are of particular concern epidemiologically. Tuberculosis is one of the oldest diseases recorded in the history of mankind dating back thousands of years. It is estimated that approximately one quarter of the world’s population is infected with latent Mycobacterium tuberculosis (LTBI). This contrasts with COVID-19, which emerged in late 2019. Data continues to accumulate and become available on this pathogen, but the long-term side effect of fibrotic damage in COVID-19 patients evokes parallels between this novel coronavirus and its ancient bacterial affiliate. This similarity as well as several others may incite inquiries on whether coinfection of individuals with latent TB and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) lead to excessive fibrosis in the lungs and thus the emergence of an active TB infection. While it is well understood how TB leads to structural and immunological lung complications including granuloma formation, fibrosis, and T cell exhaustion, less is known about the disease course when coinfection with SARS-CoV-2 is present. Past and present research demonstrate that IL-10, TNF-α, IFN class I-III, TGF-β, IL-35, and Regulatory T cells (T-regs) are all important contributors of the characteristics of host response to mycobacterium tuberculosis. It has also been noted with current research that IL-10, TNF-α, IFN class I, II, and III, TGF-β, ACE-2, and T-regs are also important contributors to the host response to the SARS-CoV-2 virus in different ways than they are to the TB pathogen. Both pathogens may lead to an unbalanced inflammatory immune response, and together a shared dysregulation of immune response suggests an increased risk of severity and progression of both diseases. We have reviewed 72 different manuscripts between the years 1992 and 2021. The manuscripts pertaining to the SARS-COV-2 virus specifically are from the years 2020 and 2021. Our literature review aims to explore the biomolecular effects of these contributors to pathogenicity of both diseases along with current publications on TB/COVID-19 coinfection, focusing on the pathogenicity of SARS-CoV-2 infection with both latent and active TB, as well as the challenges in treating TB during the COVID-19 pandemic. The compiled material will then aid the latticework foundation of knowledge for future research leading to a hopeful improved system of therapeutic strategies for coinfection.

latent TB
active TB
immune response
anti-inflammatory agents
TB treatment
Regulatory T cells
Fig. 1.
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