In about 1% of tuberculosis (TB) patients, Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tuberculosis) can disseminate to the meninges, causing tuberculous meningitis (TBM) with mortality rate up to 60%. Chronic granulomatous inflammation (non-necrotizing and necrotizing) in the brain is the histological hallmark of TBM. The tryptophan-catabolizing enzyme indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase 1 (IDO1) and the generated kynurenine metabolites exert major effector functions relevant to TB granuloma functioning. Here we have assessed immunohistochemically IDO1 expression and activity and its effector function and that of its isoform, IDO2, in post-mortem brain tissue of patients that demised with neurotuberculosis. We also related these findings to brain tissue of fatal/severe COVID-19. In this study, IDO1 and IDO2 were abundantly expressed and active in tuberculoid granulomas and were associated with the presence of M. tuberculosis as well as markers of autophagy and apoptosis. Like in fatal/severe COVID-19, IDO2 was also prominent in specific brain regions, such as the inferior olivary nucleus of medulla oblongata and cerebellum, but not associated with granulomas or with M. tuberculosis. Spatially associated apoptosis was observed in TBM, whereas in fatal COVID-19 autophagy dominated. Together, our findings highlight IDO2 as a potentially relevant effector enzyme in TBM, which may relate to the symptomology of TBM.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102495
JournalTuberculosis (Edinburgh, Scotland)
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2024


  • 3-Hydroxy anthranilic acid
  • Apoptosis
  • Autophagy
  • Granuloma
  • Indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase 1
  • Indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase 2
  • Quinolinic acid
  • Tuberculous meningitis

Cite this