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J Leukoc Biol. 2012 Aug;92(2):375-87. doi: 10.1189/jlb.1211626. Epub 2012 May 25.

IFN-γ-deficient mice develop IL-1-dependent cutaneous and musculoskeletal inflammation during experimental brucellosis.

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Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana, USA.


Human brucellosis exhibits diverse pathological manifestations that can affect almost any organ. In particular, osteoarticular complications are the most common focal manifestation of brucellosis and occur in 40-80% of patients. In immunocompetent mice, Brucella replication is generally restricted to the spleen, liver, and to a lesser extent, LNs, thereby limiting their use for study of focal inflammation often found in brucellosis. Here, we report that nasal, oral, or peritoneal infection of IFN-γ(-/-) mice with WT Brucella melitensis or Brucella abortus results in joint and periarticular tissue inflammation. Histological analysis of the affected joints revealed inflammatory infiltrates and debris within the joint space colocalizing with Brucella antigen. Osteoarthritis, necrosis, periarticular soft tissue inflammation, and substantial brucellae burdens were observed. Oral rifampicin was effective in clearing infection and halting further progression of focal inflammation from infected IFN-γ(-/-) mice, although some symptoms and swelling remained. Elevated IL-1 β, but not TNF-α, IL-6, or IL-17, was detected in joint homogenates from infected IFN-γ(-/-) mice. Whereas more susceptible to systemic infection, IL-1R(-/-) mice depleted of IFN-γ were more resistant to focal inflammation than WT mice similarly depleted of IFN-γ. Collectively, these results show IFN-γ(-/-) mice represent a potential model for study of focal inflammation attributed to Brucella infection and will allow evaluation of intervention strategies targeting IL-1, IL-1R, or other inflammatory mediators, with the potential to complement antibiotic-based therapies.

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