Author(s): Welkos SL, Keener TJ, Gibbs PH
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Abstract Animal species differ in their resistance both to infection by Bacillus anthracis and to anthrax toxin. A mouse model was developed to study the basis of the host differences and the pathogenesis of infection. When mice were infected with the virulent B. anthracis strain Vollum 1B, low 50\% lethal dose (LD50) values (5 to 30 spores) were found for all 10 strains of inbred mice tested. However, analysis of time-to-death data revealed significant differences among the strains, which could be divided into three groups: most susceptible (A/J and DBA/2J); least susceptible (CBA/J, BALB/cJ, and C57BR/cdJ); and intermediate (the remaining five strains). In contrast, the mice were distinctly susceptible or resistant to lethal infection by the toxigenic, nonencapsulated Sterne vaccine strain. The LD50 for the susceptible A/J and DBA/2J mice was approximately 10(3) spores of the Sterne strain, whereas the remaining eight relatively resistant strains were killed only by 10(6) or more spores. F1 hybrid and backcross studies suggested that resistance to the Sterne strain is determined by a single dominant gene or gene complex. Mice lethally infected with B. anthracis showed an acute course of infection, characterized by extensive gelatinous edema and large concentrations of bacilli in the blood and organs (e.g., 10(9) CFU/g of spleen). The susceptibility of A/J and CBA/J mice to intravenously injected anthrax toxin components appeared to differ from their susceptibility to infection. The toxin LD50 values for both strains were similar. However, CBA/J mice died sooner than did A/J mice, with mean time to death of 0.9 and 3.7 days, respectively, in mice given 4 LD50 of toxin. The mouse model appears to be useful in studies on host resistance to anthrax and on the pathogenesis of the infection.
This article was published in Infect Immun
and referenced in Journal of Bioterrorism & Biodefense