2010, Number 1
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ABSTRACTMycobacterium tuberculosis, the causal agent of tuberculosis, has affected humankind for approximately 20 000 years. Tuberculosis is a devastating disease, particularly in developing countries. One of its most notable characteristics is latent infection, in which live bacilli persist in the host tissues without clinical manifestations. Thus, the tuberculous bacilli adapt their metabolism to remain viable with low or no replication, avoiding their elimination by the immune system or conventional chemotherapy. Among the several problems that are particularly important to the understanding of this form of tuberculosis, and are not well-known, are the key metabolic steps that allow mycobacteria to remain in a dormant state and its interaction with host immunity. This article reviews some of the most significant biological, clinical and epidemiological aspects of this form of tuberculosis.
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