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J Med Microbiol. 2001 May;50(5):421-9.

Novel Helicobacter species isolated from rhesus monkeys with chronic idiopathic colitis.

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Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, USA.


Chronic, idiopathic diffuse colitis is a well recognised clinical and pathological entity in captive rhesus monkeys. Six rhesus monkeys were diagnosed with clinically debilitating, chronic diarrhoea. Histologically, colonic tissues were characterised as chronic, moderate to severe colitis and typhlitis, with diffuse mononuclear inflammation of lamina propria, reactive lymphoid hyperplasia and multifocal micro-abscesses. Colonic tissues were cultured for Salmonella spp. and Shigella spp.; all results were negative. Samples were negative for Clostridium difficile A and B toxins, and special stains of colonic tissue for acid-fast bacteria were also negative. The six diarrhoeic monkeys tested gave negative results for serum IgG antibodies to herpes B virus, STLV, SRV and SIV. Colonic tissue from the six diarrhoeic and two clinically normal monkeys with histologically confirmed colitis from the same colony were also subjected to micro-aerobic culture. Micro-aerobic cultures from all eight monkeys incubated at 37 degrees C and 42 degrees C revealed pinpoint or spreading colonies on antibiotic-containing media. Bacteria were identified as gram-negative, oxidase positive and urease negative. Of the nine strains characterised biochemically, two separate biotypes (corresponding to different species by 16S rRNA analysis) were identified. One biotype (type 1), from non-diarrhoeic monkeys and the second biotype (type 2) from diarrhoeic animals with subclinical chronic colonic inflammation, differed by catalase activity, ability to reduce nitrate to nitrite and sensitivity to cephalothin. Complete 16S rRNA analysis of five of the nine strains characterised biochemically indicated that the organisms isolated were two novel Helicobacter spp. By electron microscopy, these novel helicobacters had spiral morphology with bipolar sheathed flagella. This is the first report describing the isolation of novel Helicobacter spp. from inflamed colons of rhesus monkeys. Studies are needed to determine whether these novel Helicobacter spp. play a causal role in the initiation and progression of chronic colitis in macaques. Further microbiological and histological analysis of this chronic idiopathic colitis syndrome in macaques may prove useful in understanding the aetiology and pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease in man.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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