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Lab Invest. 2000 Sep;80(9):1361-72.

Establishment of a novel endothelial target mouse model of a typhus group rickettsiosis: evidence for critical roles for gamma interferon and CD8 T lymphocytes.

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Department of Pathology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, USA.


A mouse model of typhus rickettsiosis that reproduces the hematogenous dissemination to the critical target organs, including brain, lungs, heart, and kidneys, primary endothelial and, to a lesser degree, macrophage intracellular rickettsial infection, and typical vascular-based lesions of louse-borne typhus and murine typhus was established. Intravenous inoculation of C3H/HeN mice with Rickettsia typhi caused disease with a duration of the incubation period and mortality rate that were dependent on the infective dose of rickettsiae. Lethal infection was associated with high concentrations of R. typhi in the lungs and brain, despite a brisker humoral immune response to the rickettsiae than in the sublethal infection. Gamma interferon and CD8 T lymphocytes were demonstrated to be crucial to clearance of the rickettsiae and recovery from infection in experiments in which specific monoclonal antibodies were administered to deplete these components. Death of animals depleted of gamma interferon or CD8 T lymphocytes was associated with overwhelming rickettsial infection demonstrated by titers of infectious rickettsiae and by immunohistochemistry. An effective antirickettsial immune response was associated with elevated serum concentrations of IL-12 on Day 5 and increased secretion of IL-12 by concanavalin-A-stimulated spleen cells on Day 5. Evidence for transient suppression of the immune response consisted of marked reduction in the secretion of IL-2 and IL-12 by concanavalin-A-stimulated spleen cells on Days 10 and 15. This model offers excellent opportunities for study of attenuation and pathogenetic mechanisms of typhus rickettsiae, which are established biologic weapons of potential use in bioterrorism.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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