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Microbiol Immunol. 1991;35(3):175-85.

Mycolic acid-containing glycolipid as a possible virulence factor of Rhodococcus equi for mice.

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Niigata Prefectural Research Laboratory for Health and Environment.


By the use of various Rhodococcus equi strains differing in the length of carbon chains of glycolipid, we examined whether the glycolipid, glucose monomycolate, was contributing to the virulence of R. equi for mice. R. equi strains with longer carbon chain mycolic acid showed a higher virulence as determined by lethality and granuloma formation in mice than those with shorter ones. When purified glycolipid was injected into mice, granuloma formation and liver damage were most prominent with the glycolipid having longer carbon chain mycolic acid. Only a representative strain with longer carbon chain mycolic acid persisted in the spleen of mice after intravenous injection, while a strain with shorter carbon chain mycolic acid was readily eliminated. These results suggested that glycolipid was at least one of the virulence factors of R. equi and that the carbon chain length of mycolic acid might be critical in the expression of virulence.

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