Author(s): Small PM, Tuber MG, Hackbarth CJ, Sande MA
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Abstract We examined the role of fever as a host defense in experimental pneumococcal meningitis in rabbits. Twelve hours after intracisternal inoculation of an encapsulated type 3 Streptococcus pneumoniae strain, body temperature was manipulated by using two different anesthetic drugs: pentobarbital, which did not affect temperature, and urethane, which mitigated the febrile response to infection. Growth rates of pneumococci in cerebrospinal fluid were dramatically influenced by modification of the febrile response. Rabbits whose fever was not suppressed had mean bacterial doubling times of 2.76 +/- 1.43 h. Animals with a blunted febrile response had a significantly faster mean bacterial growth rate (doubling time = 1.10 +/- 0.27 h; P less than 0.02). When the antipyretic effect of urethane was counteracted by raising the ambient temperature, animals also showed a marked reduction in pneumococcal growth rates. In vitro, the pneumococci grew well at 37 degrees C in Trypticase soy broth (doubling time = 0.61 +/- 0.05 h) and in pooled rabbit cerebrospinal fluid (doubling time = 0.85 +/- 0.07 h). However, at 41 degrees C neither medium supported growth. Thus, body temperature appears to be a critical determinant of pneumococcal growth rates in experimental meningitis, and fever could be a host defense in this disease.
This article was published in Infect Immun
and referenced in Journal of Medical Diagnostic Methods