Send to

Choose Destination
Microb Pathog. 2004 Jun;36(6):311-8.

Susceptibility of immunodeficient mice to aerosol and systemic infection with virulent strains of Francisella tularensis.

Author information

Institute for Biological Sciences, National Research Council Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1A 0R6.


Previous studies have shown that IFN-gamma, TNF-alpha and NOS-2, but not B cells, are crucial for host defense against primary systemic infection with the attenuated live vaccine strain (LVS) of Francisella tularensis. In this study, we examined the importance of these and additional immune components in host resistance against infection with virulent strains of F. tularensis initiated by systemic and airborne routes. Wild-type (WT) mice and mice deficient in IFN-gamma, TNFR1R2, NOS-2, or B cells were equally susceptible to low dose ( approximately 10 colony forming units) aerosol or intradermal challenge with virulent type B F. tularensis, and succumbed to the infection between days 6 and 8 post-inoculation. Quantitative bacteriology showed that IFN-gamma-/- and B cell-/- mice consistently harbored up to one log(10) more bacteria in their lungs, spleens and livers than WT mice at day 5 post aerosol exposure. Surprisingly, however, compared to other strains of KO mice and WT control mice, IFN-gamma-/- mice showed only mild liver damage as assessed by histopathology and liver function tests. Additional experiments established that even mice with broad immunodeficiency (SCID, neutropenic, splenectomized or thymectomized mice and mice treated with corticosteroid) were no more susceptible to aerosol-initiated infection with virulent type B or type A F. tularensis than immunosufficient control mice. Combined, our results indicate that, unlike LVS, normal type A and type B F. tularensis strains are so extremely virulent that even immunocompetent mice are virtually defenseless to low dose aerosol and intradermal challenges with them.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center