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Vet Pathol. 2007 Nov;44(6):863-74.

Lesion development and immunohistochemical changes in granulomas from cattle experimentally infected with Mycobacterium bovis.

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Bacterial Diseases of Livestock Research Unit, National Animal Disease Center, Agricultural Research Service, US Department of Agriculture, Ames, IA, USA.


Mycobacterium bovis, the causative agent of bovine tuberculosis, persists within granulomas. Formation of granulomas involves a complex array of immune activation and cellular migration. To examine temporal changes in granuloma development, we inoculated 32 cattle with M. bovis of deer origin. Tissues from 4 calves each were examined at 15, 28, 42, 60, 90, 180, 270, and 370 days after inoculation. Granulomas in the medial retropharyngeal lymph node were staged (I-IV) on the basis of cellular composition and the presence or absence of necrosis and peripheral fibrosis. Immunohistochemistry for inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), CD68, CD4, CD8, and gamma/delta T cells was performed. Fifteen days after inoculation only stage I granulomas were seen, while between 28 and 60 days, there was a steady progression through granuloma stages such that by day 60, granulomas of all 4 stages were seen. Acid-fast bacilli were present in moderate-to-large numbers in stage I granulomas 15-60 days after inoculation. Stage IV granulomas contained large numbers of acid-fast bacteria. Abundant iNOS immunoreactivity was associated with granulomas from day 15 through day 60 but was minimal from day 90 to the termination of the experiment. The relative number of CD4+ and CD68+ cells remained constant throughout the study. In contrast, at time points >60 days, numbers of CD8+ and gamma/delta T cells diminished. Tuberculous granulomas are dynamic lesions that follow an orderly progression through disease stages. Diminished expression of iNOS and reduced numbers of CD8+ and gamma/delta T cells late in the progression of tuberculous granulomas may represent a failure of the host response to control infection.

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