Author(s): Sharma J, Mares CA, Li Q, Morris EG, Teale JM, Sharma J, Mares CA, Li Q, Morris EG, Teale JM
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Abstract The virulence mechanisms of Francisella tularensis, the causative agent of severe pneumonia in humans and a CDC category A bioterrorism agent, are not fully defined. As sepsis is the leading cause of mortality associated with respiratory infections, we determined whether, in the absence of any known bacterial toxins, a deregulated host response resulting in sepsis syndrome is associated with lethality of respiratory infection with the virulent human Type A strain SchuS4 of F. tularensis. The C57BL/6 mice infected intranasally with a lethal dose of SchuS4 exhibited high bacterial burden in systemic organs and blood indicative of bacteremia. In correlation, infected mice displayed severe tissue pathology and associated cell death in lungs, liver and spleen. Consistent with our studies with murine model strain Francisella novicida, infection with SchuS4 caused an initial delay in upregulation of inflammatory mediators followed by development of severe sepsis characterized by exaggerated cytokine release, upregulation of cardiovascular injury markers and sepsis mediator alarmins S100A9 and HMGB1. This study shows that pulmonary tularemia caused by the Type A strain of F. tularensis results in a deregulated host response leading to severe sepsis and likely represents the major cause of mortality associated with this virulent pathogen. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
This article was published in Microb Pathog
and referenced in Journal of Bioterrorism & Biodefense