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Exposure to Mycobacterium remodels alveolar macrophages and the early innate response to Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection

Mai, D;Jahn, A;Murray, T;Morikubo, M;Lim, PN;Cervantes, MM;Pham, LK;Nemeth, J;Urdahl, K;Diercks, AH;Aderem, A;Rothchild, AC;

Alveolar macrophages (AMs) play a critical role during Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) infection as the first cells in the lung to encounter bacteria. We previously showed that AMs initially respond to Mtb in vivo by mounting a cell-protective, rather than pro-inflammatory response. However, the plasticity of the initial AM response was unknown. Here, we characterize how previous exposure to Mycobacterium, either through subcutaneous vaccination with Mycobacterium bovis (scBCG) or through a contained Mtb infection (coMtb) that mimics aspects of concomitant immunity, impacts the initial response by AMs. We find that both scBCG and coMtb accelerate early innate cell activation and recruitment and generate a stronger pro-inflammatory response to Mtb in vivo by AMs. Within the lung environment, AMs from scBCG vaccinated mice mount a robust interferon-associated response, while AMs from coMtb mice produce a broader inflammatory response that is not dominated by Interferon Stimulated Genes. Using scRNAseq, we identify changes to the frequency and phenotype of airway-resident macrophages following Mycobacterium exposure, with enrichment for both interferon-associated and pro-inflammatory populations of AMs. In contrast, minimal changes were found for airway-resident T cells and dendritic cells after exposures. Ex vivo stimulation of AMs with Pam3Cys, LPS and Mtb reveal that scBCG and coMtb exposures generate stronger interferon-associated responses to LPS and Mtb that are cell-intrinsic changes. However, AM profiles that were unique to each exposure modality following Mtb infection in vivo are dependent on the lung environment and do not emerge following ex vivo stimulation. Overall, our studies reveal significant and durable remodeling of AMs following exposure to Mycobacterium, with evidence for both AM-intrinsic changes and contributions from the altered lung microenvironments. Comparisons between the scBCG and coMtb models highlight the plasticity of AMs in the airway and opportunities to target their function through vaccination or host-directed therapies.