HMGB1/RAGE Signaling and Pro-Inflammatory Cytokine Responses in Non-HIV Adults with Active Pulmonary Tuberculosis


We aimed to study the pathogenic roles of High-Mobility Group Box 1 (HMGB1) / Receptor-for-Advanced-Glycation-End-products (RAGE) signaling and pro-inflammatory cytokines in patients with active pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB).


A prospective study was conducted among non-HIV adults newly-diagnosed with active PTB at two acute-care hospitals (n = 80); age-and-sex matched asymptomatic individuals (tested for latent TB) were used for comparison (n = 45). Plasma concentrations of 8 cytokines/chemokines, HMGB1, soluble-RAGE, and transmembrane-RAGE expressed on monocytes/dendritic cells, were measured. Gene expression (mRNA) of HMGB1, RAGE, and inflammasome-NALP3 was quantified. Patients’ PBMCs were stimulated with recombinant-HMGB1 and MTB-antigen (lipoarabinomannan) for cytokine induction ex vivo.


In active PTB, plasma IL-8/CXCL8 [median(IQR), 6.0(3.6–15.1) vs 3.6(3.6–3.6) pg/ml, P<0.001] and IL-6 were elevated, which significantly correlated with mycobacterial load, extent of lung consolidation (rs +0.509, P<0.001), severity-score (rs +0.317, P = 0.004), and fever and hospitalization durations (rs +0.407, P<0.001). IL-18 and sTNFR1 also increased. Plasma IL-8/CXCL8 (adjusted OR 1.12, 95%CI 1.02–1.23 per unit increase, P = 0.021) and HMGB1 (adjusted OR 1.42 per unit increase, 95%CI 1.08–1.87, P = 0.012) concentrations were independent predictors for respiratory failure, as well as for ICU admission/death. Gene expression of HMGB1, RAGE, and inflammasome-NALP3 were upregulated (1.2−2.8 fold). Transmembrane-RAGE was increased, whereas the decoy soluble-RAGE was significantly depleted. RAGE and HMGB1 gene expressions positively correlated with cytokine levels (IL-8/CXCL8, IL-6, sTNFR1) and clinico-/radiographical severity (e.g. extent of consolidation rs +0.240, P = 0.034). Ex vivo, recombinant-HMGB1 potentiated cytokine release (e.g. TNF-α) when combined with lipoarabinomannan.


In patients with active PTB, HMGB1/RAGE signaling and pro-inflammatory cytokines may play important roles in pathogenesis and disease manifestations. Our clinico-immunological data can provide basis for the development of new strategies for disease monitoring, management and control.