Author(s): Crawford RM, Van De Verg L, Yuan L, Hadfield TL, Warren RL,
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Abstract We previously showed that a purE mutant (delta purE201) of Brucella melitensis 16M is attenuated for growth in cultured human monocytes (E. S. Drazek, H. H. Houng, R. M. Crawford, T. L. Hadfield, D. L. Hoover, and R. L. Warren, Infect. Immun. 63:3297-3301, 1995). To determine if this strain is attenuated in animals, we compared the growth of the delta purE201 mutant with that of strain 16M in BALB/c mice. The number of bacteria in the spleen and spleen weight peaked for both strains between 1 and 2 weeks postinfection (p.i.), though the number of delta purE201 cells was significantly less than the number of 16M cells recovered from the spleens of infected mice. During the next 6 weeks, delta purE201 was essentially eliminated from infected mice (three of five mice sterile; < 100 CFU in two of live mice at 8 weeks p.i.), whereas bacteria persisted at a high level in the spleens of 16M-infected mice (about 106 CFU per spleen). The number of bacteria in the livers and lungs of mice infected with either strain paralleled those in the spleen. Mice infected with 16M had a strong inflammatory response, developing dramatic and prolonged splenomegaly (five to eight times normal spleen weight) and producing serum interleukin-6. In contrast, mice infected with delta purE201 developed only mild, transient splenomegaly at 1 week p.i. and produced no interleukin-6 in their serum. We further characterized the host response to infection by measuring changes in immune spleen cell populations by flow cytometry. CD4- and CD8-positive lymphocytes declined by I week in both experimental groups, while MAC-1-positive cells increased. T-cell subpopulations remained low or declined further, and MAC-1 cells increased to three times normal levels during 8 weeks of infection with 16M but returned to normal by 4 weeks after infection with delta purE201. These results document infectivity and attenuation of delta purE201 and suggest that it should be further evaluated as a potential vaccine.
This article was published in Infect Immun
and referenced in Journal of Bioterrorism & Biodefense