Author(s): Soldati G, Lu ZH, Vaughan L, Polkinghorne A, Zimmermann DR,
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Abstract A retrospective study on reptile tissues presenting with granulomatous inflammation was performed to detect the possible presence of mycobacteria and chlamydiae in these lesions. Ninety cases including 48 snakes, 27 chelonians, and 15 lizards were selected. Mycobacteria were detected by Ziehl-Neelsen (ZN) staining and a broad-range polymerase chain reaction (PCR) followed by DNA sequencing. To detect chlamydiae, immunohistochemistry with monoclonal antibodies against chlamydial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and a Chlamydiales order-specific PCR and sequencing were applied. Acid-fast bacilli were found in 14 cases (15.6\%) by ZN staining and in 23 cases (25.6\%) by PCR. Sequence analysis revealed the presence of Mycobacteria other than Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MOTT). Chlamydial LPS antigen was observed within granulomas from five samples (5.6\%), whereas the PCR screen revealed 58 positive cases (64.4\%). Of these, 9 cases (10\%) showed 98-99\% similarity to Chlamydophila (Cp.) pneumoniae and 49 cases (54.4\%) displayed a high similarity (88-97\%) to the newly described "Chlamydia-like" microorganisms Parachlamydia acanthamoebae and Simkania negevensis. Results from this study confirm, on the one hand, that MOTT are probably the most important infectious etiology for granulomatous inflammation in reptiles. On the other hand, they indicate that chlamydia infects reptiles and that Cp. pneumoniae should be considered an etiological agent of granulomatous lesions of reptiles. Because both MOTT and Cp. pneumoniae are human pathogens, the potential of zoonotic transmission from reptiles to humans has to be considered. In contrast, the significance of Chlamydia-like isolates remains completely open, and further studies are needed to evaluate their role.
This article was published in Vet Pathol
and referenced in Journal of Clinical & Cellular Immunology