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Infect Immun. 2007 Feb;75(2):697-705. Epub 2006 Nov 13.

Delayed inflammatory response to primary pneumonic plague occurs in both outbred and inbred mice.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, 7703 Floyd Curl Dr., San Antonio, TX 78229, USA.


Yersinia pestis is the causative agent of plague, a disease that can manifest as either bubonic or pneumonic plague. An interesting feature of plague is that it is a rapidly progressive disease, suggesting that Y. pestis either evades and/or suppresses the innate immune response to infection. Therefore, the early host response during the course of primary pneumonic plague was investigated in two mouse strains, the outbred strain CD1 and the inbred strain C57BL/6. A comparative analysis of the course of disease in these two strains of mice indicated that they are susceptible to intranasal Y. pestis CO92 infection and have similar 50% lethal doses and kinetics of infection with respect to colonization of the lung, liver, and spleen. Significantly, in both strains of mice, robust neutrophil recruitment to the lungs was not observed until 48 h after infection, suggesting that there was a delay in inflammatory cell recruitment to the site of infection. In addition, proinflammatory cytokines (interleukin-6 [IL-6], tumor necrosis factor alpha, gamma interferon, IL-12p70, monocyte chemoattractant protein 1) and chemokines (KC, MIP-2) in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluids were not readily detected until 48 h after infection, which coincided with the increase in polymorphonuclear leukocyte (PMN) recruitment to the lungs. In comparison, CD1 mice with gram-negative pneumonia caused by Klebsiella pneumoniae exhibited strong inflammatory responses early in infection, with PMNs comprising the majority of the cells in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid 24 h postinfection, indicating that PMN recruitment to the lungs could occur earlier in this infection than in Y. pestis infection. Together, our results indicate that there is a delay in the recruitment of neutrophils to the lungs in the mouse model of primary plague pneumonia that correlates with delayed expression of proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines in both outbred and inbred mice.

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