NAC protects against Mycobacterium avium through induction of human β-defensin-2 in lungs

Mycobacterium avium complex is a causative organism for refractory diseases. In this study, we examined the effects of N-acetyl-cysteine on M. avium infection in vitro and in vivo. N-acetyl-cysteine treatment suppressed the growth of M. avium in A549 cells in a concentration-dependent manner. This effect was related to the induction of the antibacterial peptide human β-defensin-2. In a mouse model, N-acetyl-cysteine treatment significantly reduced the number of bacteria in the lungs and induced murine β-defensin-3. In interleukin-17-deficient mice, the effects of N-acetyl-cysteine disappeared, indicating that these mechanisms may be mediated by interleukin-17. Moreover, an additional reduction in bacterial load was observed in mice administered N-acetyl-cysteine in combination with clarithromycin. Our findings demonstrate the potent antimycobacterial effects of N-acetyl-cysteine against M. avium by inducing antimicrobial peptide, suggesting that N-acetyl-cysteine may have applications as an alternative to classical treatment regimens.

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