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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2001 Aug 14;98(17):9814-8. Epub 2001 Jul 31.

Spatial-temporal imaging of bacterial infection and antibiotic response in intact animals.

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AntiCancer, Inc., San Diego, CA 92111, USA.


We describe imaging the luminance of green fluorescent protein (GFP)-expressing bacteria from outside intact infected animals. This simple, nonintrusive technique can show in great detail the spatial-temporal behavior of the infectious process. The bacteria, expressing the GFP, are sufficiently bright as to be clearly visible from outside the infected animal and recorded with simple equipment. Introduced bacteria were observed in several mouse organs including the peritoneal cavity, stomach, small intestine, and colon. Instantaneous real-time images of the infectious process were acquired by using a color charge-coupled device video camera by simply illuminating mice at 490 nm. Most techniques for imaging the interior of intact animals may require the administration of exogenous substrates, anesthesia, or contrasting substances and require very long data collection times. In contrast, the whole-body fluorescence imaging described here is fast and requires no extraneous agents. The progress of Escherichia coli-GFP through the mouse gastrointestinal tract after gavage was followed in real-time by whole-body imaging. Bacteria, seen first in the stomach, migrated into the small intestine and subsequently into the colon, an observation confirmed by intravital direct imaging. An i.p. infection was established by i.p. injection of E. coli-GFP. The development of infection over 6 h and its regression after kanamycin treatment were visualized by whole-body imaging. This imaging technology affords a powerful approach to visualizing the infection process, determining the tissue specificity of infection, and the spatial migration of the infectious agents.

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