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Infect Immun. 1986 Oct;54(1):118-25.

The chicken embryo as a model for campylobacter invasion: comparative virulence of human isolates of Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli.


Eleven-day-old chicken embryos were used to compare the relative virulence of minimally passaged human isolates of Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli. Graded doses of bacteria were inoculated onto the chorioallantoic membrane, and 50% lethal doses were calculated at 72 h postinfection. Strains varied markedly in their ability to invade the chorioallantoic membrane and kill the embryos. The 50% lethal doses varied by about 6 logs for 25 strains of C. jejuni, and by 2 logs for 5 strains of C. coli. Although both outbred and inbred embryos were employed in the study, the latter were found to be more susceptible to infection with most strains. All isolates were screened for plasmid DNA, but there was no apparent relationship between plasmid content and virulence of strains for the embryos. Neither could virulence be associated with the production of siderophores by the strains. The ability of selected strains of C. jejuni to invade the liver of embryos was also studied. The number of campylobacters culturable from the liver was found to be inversely related to the 50% lethal dose of the strain. By inoculating 11-day-old embryos intravenously, it was possible to demonstrate that a strain of C. jejuni which was poorly virulent after chorioallantoic inoculation was relatively noninvasive. Invasiveness alone, however, could not fully account for the lethality of two highly virulent strains of C. jejuni administered by the intravenous route. Finally, there was no correlation between motility and virulence in this model system.

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