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J Med Microbiol. 2009 May;58(Pt 5):648-55. doi: 10.1099/jmm.0.008169-0.

Use of quantitative real-time PCR for studying the dissemination of Leptospira interrogans in the guinea pig infection model of leptospirosis.

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Institut Pasteur, Unité de Biologie des Spirochètes, Paris, France.


The dynamics of leptospirosis infection have been poorly studied. The purpose of this study was to determine the LD(50), rate of bacterial dissemination, histopathology and antibody responses against leptospira following inoculation with the highly virulent Leptospira interrogans Fiocruz L1-130 strain in a guinea pig model of leptospirosis. Three routes of infection (intraperitoneal, conjunctival and subcutaneous inoculation) were used to establish disease in guinea pigs. The size and kinetics of leptospiral burdens in the blood and tissues of infected animals were determined over a 1 week course of infection using quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR). Bacteraemia peaked at day 5 post-infection reaching more than 5x10(4) leptospires ml(-1). The highest spirochaetal load was found in the liver and kidneys, and was associated with alterations in organ tissues and a decline in liver and kidney functions. In contrast, lesions and bacteria were not detected in guinea pigs infected with an avirulent strain derived from a high-passage-number in vitro-passaged variant of the Fiocruz L1-130 strain. The use of qPCR supports the findings of earlier studies and provides an easy and reliable method for the quantification of L. interrogans in the tissues of infected animals. qPCR will be used in future studies to evaluate the efficacy of vaccine candidates against leptospirosis and the virulence of selected L. interrogans mutants relative to the parental strain.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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