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PLoS One. 2011;6(5):e20204. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0020204. Epub 2011 May 27.

Differential effects of Bartonella henselae on human and feline macro- and micro-vascular endothelial cells.

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Unité Mixte de Recherche de Biologie Moléculaire et Immunologie Parasitaires et Fongiques, Ecole Nationale Vétérinaire d'Alfort, Université Paris-Est, Maisons-Alfort, France.


Bartonella henselae, a zoonotic agent, induces tumors of endothelial cells (ECs), namely bacillary angiomatosis and peliosis in immunosuppressed humans but not in cats. In vitro studies on ECs represent to date the only way to explore the interactions between Bartonella henselae and vascular endothelium. However, no comparative study of the interactions between Bartonella henselae and human (incidental host) ECs vs feline (reservoir host) ECs has been carried out because of the absence of any available feline endothelial cell lines.To this purpose, we have developed nine feline EC lines which allowed comparing the effects of Bartonella strains on human and feline micro-vascular ECs representative of the infection development sites such as skin, versus macro-vascular ECs, such as umbilical vein.Our model revealed intrinsic differences between human (Human Skin Microvascular ECs -HSkMEC and Human Umbilical Vein ECs - iHUVEC) and feline ECs susceptibility to Bartonella henselae infection.While no effect was observed on the feline ECs upon Bartonella henselae infection, the human ones displayed accelerated angiogenesis and wound healing.Noticeable differences were demonstrated between human micro- and macro-vasculature derived ECs both in terms of pseudo-tube formation and healing. Interestingly, Bartonella henselae effects on human ECs were also elicited by soluble factors.Neither Bartonella henselae-infected Human Skin Microvascular ECs clinically involved in bacillary angiomatosis, nor feline ECs increased cAMP production, as opposed to HUVEC.Bartonella henselae could stimulate the activation of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Receptor-2 (VEGFR-2) in homologous cellular systems and trigger VEGF production by HSkMECs only, but not iHUVEC or any feline ECs tested.These results may explain the decreased pathogenic potential of Bartonella henselae infection for cats as compared to humans and strongly suggest that an autocrine secretion of VEGF by human skin endothelial cells might induce their growth and ultimately lead to bacillary angiomatosis formation.

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