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Am J Pathol. 2004 Sep;165(3):997-1006.

Histologic, serologic, and molecular analysis of persistent ehrlichiosis in a murine model.

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Department of Pathology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX 77555-0609, USA.


Human monocytotropic ehrlichiosis caused by Ehrlichia chaffeensis was reported in 1987. An animal model to study acute fatal ehrlichiosis in mice that has been developed closely resembles the fatal form of human monocytotropic ehrlichiosis. However, animal models for persistent infection in the genus Ehrlichia in immunocompetent mice have not been characterized. We report the histopathological progression of Ehrlichia muris infection in immunocompetent mice (AKR and C57BL/6 strains) correlated with their antibody response determined by indirect immunofluorescence and Western immunoblotting, and the distribution and quantity of the ehrlichial load by immunohistochemistry, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and real-time PCR in lungs, liver, and spleen. Mild to moderate correlation was observed between histopathological grading in these organs and relative ehrlichial loads. The highest ehrlichial loads were present between days 4 and 14 after infection. E. muris was detected in tissues examined up to 150 days after infection by real-time PCR. Analysis of the serological response revealed several immunodominant antigens, including 200-, 180-, 100-, 73/75-, 45-, and 28-kd proteins. In conclusion, we have provided for the first time a complete histopathological, serological, immunohistochemical, and quantitative analysis of an animal model for the study of persistent ehrlichial infection.

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