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Microb Pathog. 1998 Jun;24(6):351-9.

Apoptosis: a possible tactic of Haemophilus somnus for evasion of killing by bovine neutrophils?

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  • 1Department of Pathobiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, 53706, USA.


Haemophilus somnus is an important veterinary pathogen that causes respiratory disease, arthritis, septicaemia and abortion in cattle and sheep. In the present study we investigated the possibility that H. somnus resists killing by bovine neutrophils, by causing the latter to undergo morphological changes consistent with apoptosis. Both serum-sensitive and serum-resistant strains of H. somnus enhanced bovine neutrophil chromatin condensation and shape change (i.e. zeiosis) in vitro, suggesting that the cells were undergoing apoptosis. Heat-killed or formalin-killed H. somnus had less effect than viable H. somnus. Chromatin margination of neutrophils was greater whenH. somnus was opsonized with adult bovine serum, which facilitates phagocytosis of the bacteria. H. somnus culture filtrates did not cause bovine neutrophil chromatin condensation. These findings suggest that direct contact with H. somnus is required for the maximal effect on bovine neutrophils. Apoptosis was confirmed by flow cytometry, using propidium iodide staining to detect DNA fragmentation. These findings suggest that H. somnus can evade killing by bovine neutrophils, in part, by inducing these cells to undergo apoptosis.

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