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APMIS. 1993 Jun;101(6):417-29.

Experimental Yersinia enterocolitica infection in rodents: a model for human yersiniosis.

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Institute for Hygiene and Microbiology, University of W├╝rzburg, Germany.


Yersinia enterocolitica infection in humans causes a broad spectrum of diseases ranging from acute bowel disease to extraintestinal manifestations such as reactive arthritis, erythema nodosum and uveitis. During the last decade a fascinating part of the molecular biology of the pathogenicity of human pathogenic Yersinia species has been unraveled. Pathogenicity factors such as protein tyrosine phosphatase, protein kinase, thrombin- and collagen-binding factors have been identified and characterized on the molecular level. In contrast to many animal models for human enteropathogenic microorganisms, experimental Y. enterocolitica infection in rodents resembles yersiniosis in humans and thus offers extraordinary opportunities to study the sequential steps of the infectious process. Rabbits are suitable animals in which to study Yersinia-induced enteritis (enterotoxin-mediated) and the humoral immune response after oral infection. The role of Peyer's patches (PP) in the entry of enteropathogenic Yersinia species has been elucidated in mice and rabbits. M cells are probably the primary target cells of invading Yersiniae. Surprisingly, after penetration of the mucosal epithelial cell layer Yersinia bacilli were visualized to be exclusively extracellular in PP tissue. Obviously neutrophils within PP were unable to phagocytize the invading microorganisms. Presently, it is not clear how the microorganisms disseminate from PP into lymph nodes, spleen, liver and lung of mice where they form abscesses and granuloma-like lesions. Immunohistologically the involvement of macrophages and T cells could be demonstrated in Yersinia-induced lesions of mice. Direct evidence for the role of T cells and cytokine-activated macrophages in the host defense reaction against a primary Yersinia infection in mice could be obtained from experiments including adoptive transfer of Yersinia-specific T cells and in vivo neutralization of TNF-alpha and IFN-gamma. The experimental rat model turned out to be a suitable model for studying Yersinia-induced aseptic arthritis. Lewis- and SHR rats proved to be arthritis-susceptible. Arthritogenicity of Yersinia for rats appeared to be restricted to Y. enterocolitica of serotype 08 and correlated with the virulence potential of this serotype. Surprisingly, expression of YadA, the collagen-binding factor, was not necessary for arthritis induction. A close association between both susceptibility to arthritis induction and Yersinia infection could be demonstrated in various rat strains. Depletion of alpha/beta T-cell receptor (alpha beta-TCR)-positive T cells by treatment with alpha beta-TCR-specific antibody revealed that T cells were required for clearance of the pathogen.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

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