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Clin Exp Immunol. 2009 Jul;157(1):139-47. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2249.2009.03923.x.

Mycobacterium bovis with different genotypes and from different hosts induce dissimilar immunopathological lesions in a mouse model of tuberculosis.

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Experimental Pathology Section, Department of Pathology, National Institute of Medical Sciences and Nutrition, Salvador Zubirán, Mexico City, México.


With the hypothesis that genetic variability of Mycobacterium bovis could influence virulence and immunopathology, five M. bovis strains were selected from an epidemiological study in Argentina on the basis of their prevalence in cattle and occurrence in other species. We then determined the virulence and the immunopathology evoked by these strains in a well-characterized mouse model of progressive pulmonary tuberculosis. The reference strain AN5 was used as a control. BALB/c mice infected with this M. bovis reference strain showed 50% survival after 4 months of infection, with moderate bacillary counts in the lung. Two weeks after inoculation, it induced a strong inflammatory response with numerous granulomas and progressive pneumonia. In contrast, strain 04-303, isolated from a wild boar, was the most lethal and its most striking feature was sudden pneumonia with extensive necrosis. Strain 04-302, also isolated from wild boar but with a different spoligotype, induced similar pathology but to a lesser extent. In contrast, strains 534, V2 (both from cattle) and 02-2B (from human) were less virulent, permitting higher survival after 4 months of infection and limited tissue damage. Strain AN5 and the cattle and human isolates induced rapid, high and stable expression of interferon (IFN)-gamma and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS). In contrast, the more virulent strains induced lower expression of IFN-gamma, tumour necrosis factor-alpha and iNOS. Interestingly, these more virulent strains induced very low expression of murine beta defensin 4 (mBD-4); whereas, the control strain AN5 induced progressive expression of this anti-microbial peptide, peaking at day 120. The less virulent strains induced high mBD-4 expression during early infection. Thus, as reported with clinical isolates of M. tuberculosis, M. bovis also showed variable virulence. This variability can be attributed to the induction of a different pattern of immune response.

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