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J Gen Microbiol. 1987 Mar;133(3):691-700.

Animal models in Q fever: pathological responses of inbred mice to phase I Coxiella burnetii.

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US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Airborne Diseases Division, Fort Detrick, Frederick, MD 21701-5011.


The susceptibility of inbred strains of mice to infection by phase I Coxiella burnetii, the aetiological agent of Q fever, was investigated by evaluating morbidity, mortality, antibody production and in vitro proliferative responses of splenic lymphocytes. Among the 47 strains of mice tested for morbidity and mortality to C. burnetii infection, 33 were resistant, 10 were of intermediate sensitivity, and four were sensitive. A/J mice exhibited the highest mortality, and surviving mice of this strain yielded high concentrations of viable rickettsiae from essentially all organs for more than 3 weeks after inoculation. However, A/J mice developed a protective immune response after vaccination with inactivated C. burnetii cells. Induction of gross pathological responses and antibody production were similar in sensitive mice (strain A/J) and resistant mice (strain C57BL/6J). The LD50 of phase I C. burnetii for A/J mice was about 1000-fold lower than that for the more resistant C57BL/6J mice. Mice of both strains developed antibody titres against phase I cells, phase II cells, and phase I lipopolysaccharide after the injection of one or more viable phase I organisms of C. burnetii; five or more rickettsiae caused splenomegaly that was almost proportional to the infecting dose. Suppression of in vitro proliferative responses of splenic lymphocytes to concanavalin A, a T-cell mitogen, was apparent after infection of sensitive A/J mice with as few as one to five phase I micro-organisms. However, suppression of proliferation of splenic lymphocytes from resistant C57BL/6J mice required 10(7) phase I C. burnetii.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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