There is an urgent need to develop a method to be used to diagnose early and latent nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) infection in persons with cystic fibrosis (CF). The prevalence of Mycobacterium abscessus complex (MABSC) is increasing among Danish CF patients and the effect on lung function is devastating. Despite treatment, less than a third of patients with MABSC were able to clear the infection and one-fourth eventually underwent lung transplant or died. Delays in diagnosis are likely to occur, stressing the need for alternative diagnostic tests. Here, we aim to develop a cellular-based immune assay inspired from the successful tuberculosis (TB) interferon-gamma (IFN-³) release assay, which has improved outcomes of patients with TB, to diagnose early and latent NTM infection. In addition, we aim to investigate differences in the adaptive immune response (with a particular focus on immunological memory) against Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) and MABSC between CF patients seen at the Rigshospitalet (Copenhagen, Denmark) and University of Campinas (CERFC - Campinas, Brazil) CF reference centers, using a flow cytometric immunophenotyping assay, as well as the possible role of the Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination (routinely performed in Brazil but not in Denmark) in this context, which has not been investigated so far and may explain the contrasting frequencies of NTM between these two centers. This research project is part of the well established cooperation between CERFC's and Rigshospitalet's CF study groups.
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