Open Access Research article

Effects of infection and disease with Mycobacterium tuberculosis on serum antibody to glucan and arabinomannan: two surface polysaccharides of this pathogen

Wendy A Keitel1*, ZhongDong Dai2, Robert W Awe3, Robert L Atmar1, Sheldon Morris4, Rachel Schneerson2 and John B Robbins2

Author Affiliations

1 Departments of Molecular Virology & Microbiology and Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA

2 Program on Developmental and Molecular Immunity, Eunice Schriver Kennedy Institute of Child Health and Human Development, NIH, Bethesda, MD 20852, USA

3 Ben Taub General Hospital, Houston, TX, USA

4 CBER, Food and Drug Administration, Houston, TX, USA

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2013, 13:276  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-13-276

Published: 19 June 2013



The role of the surface capsular polysaccharides (CPs) of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) in the pathogenesis of infection and disease, as well their potential for use as diagnostic reagents and vaccine antigens, are unknown.


Serum antibody to two CPs of Mtb, arabinomannan (AM) and glucan (Glu), were studied in samples from 52 18–74 year-old HIV-seronegative, immunocompetent individuals in Houston Texas. The effects of Mtb exposure, infection and disease upon the levels of antibodies to these CPs were assessed. Subjects were grouped according to the standard international classification.


IgA anti-Glu levels were significantly higher in the active and treated TB compared to a group that was PPD-negative without TB exposure history (p<0.05). Antibodies against AM demonstrated a similar pattern, with the exception that IgG anti-AM was higher in groups who had active TB or previously documented active TB, and IgA anti-AM was higher in subjects with previously documented active TB compared to the level in an unexposed, PPD-negative group (p<0.05). Serum IgG anti-Glu levels were higher in subjects with active TB or previously documented active TB than in the unexposed PPD-negative group, but the differences were not significant.


These data suggest that the evaluation of antibody responses to the CP of Mtb may have utility for TB serodiagnosis, and that vaccines designed to induce humoral responses to TB CPs should be tested for their capacity to evoke anti-tuberculosis protective immunity.

Mycobacterium tuberculosis; Capsular polysaccharides; Immune responses