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J Med Primatol. 2004 Jun;33(3):134-45.

Evidence for a rhesus monkey model of asymptomatic tuberculosis.

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Divisions of Microbiology and Immunology, Veterinary Medicine and Comparative Pathology, Tulane National Primate Research Center, Covington, LA 70433, USA.


Rhesus monkeys (RM) were inoculated intrabronchially with graded doses of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) strains Erdman and H37Rv in an effort to produce a model of asymptomatic tuberculosis infection. Erdman strain produced active disease within 7-11 weeks regardless of dose. Low doses of H37Rv resulted in asymptomatic infections; high doses produced active disease within 11 weeks. Over a 4-month period of post-inoculation study, MTB culture-filtrate protein (CFP)-stimulated bronchoalveolar lavage cells (BALC) and blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from monkeys with active disease (30 cfu Erdman-inoculated) or asymptomatic infection (200 cfu H37Rv-inoculated) produced similar significant quantities of mRNA encoding for IFN-gamma or TNF-alpha, but insignificant quantities of IL-4 mRNA. Differences were observed in antigen-induced in vitro blastogenic responses and serum anti-lipoarabinomannan (LAM) antibody responses in animals with active compared with asymptomatic MTB infections. The results indicate that RM are a good model for the study of asymptomatic tuberculosis infections using low doses of H37Rv.

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