Tuberculosis (TB), caused by the bacterium
Mycobacterium tuberculosis, is the leading cause of mortality worldwide due to a single infectious agent. The pathogen spreads primarily via aerosols and especially infects the alveolar macrophages in the lungs. The lung has evolved various biological mechanisms, including oxidative stress (OS) responses, to counteract TB infection. M. tuberculosisinfection triggers the generation of reactive oxygen species by host phagocytic cells (primarily macrophages). The development of resistance to commonly prescribed antibiotics poses a challenge to treat TB; this commonly manifests as multidrug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB). OS and antioxidant defense mechanisms play key roles during TB infection and treatment. For instance, several established first-/second-line antitubercle antibiotics are administered in an inactive form and subsequently transformed into their active form by components of the OS responses of both host (nitric oxide, S-oxidation) and pathogen (catalase/peroxidase enzyme, EthA). Additionally, M. tuberculosishas developed mechanisms to survive high OS burden in the host, including the increased bacterial NADH/NAD+ ratio and enhanced intracellular survival (Eis) protein, peroxiredoxin, superoxide dismutases, and catalases. Here, we review the interplay between lung OS and its effects on both activation of antitubercle antibiotics and the strategies employed by M. tuberculosisthat are essential for survival of both drug-susceptible and drug-resistant bacterial subtypes. We then outline potential new therapies that are based on combining standard antitubercular antibiotics with adjuvant agents that could limit the ability of M. tuberculosisto counter the host’s OS response.