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Infect Immun. 1994 Jul; 62(7): 2779–2783.
PMCID: PMC302881

Neutrophils are critical for host defense against primary infection with the facultative intracellular bacterium Francisella tularensis in mice and participate in defense against reinfection.


It is generally believed that immunity to experimental infection with the facultative intracellular bacterium Francisella tularensis is an example of T-cell-mediated immunity that is expressed by activated macrophages and mediated by Francisella-specific T cells. According to the results presented herein, neutrophils are also essential for defense against primary infection with this organism. It is shown that mice depleted of neutrophils by treatment with the granulocyte-specific monoclonal antibody RB6-8C5 are rendered defenseless against otherwise sublethal doses of F. tularensis LVS inoculated intravenously or intradermally. In neutrophil-depleted mice, the organism grew progressively in the livers, spleens, and lungs to reach lethal numbers, whereas infection was resolved in normal mice. Although neutrophils were found to resistance to reinfection, their participation was less important. The results suggest that neutrophils are needed for defense against primary infection because they serve to restrict the growth of F. tularensis before it reaches numbers capable of overwhelming a developing specific immune response. The exact way that neutrophils achieve this is not clear at this time, although it is probable that they contribute in ways other than by ingesting and killing the bacterium.

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Selected References

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