Characterization of Burkholderia pseudomallei Strains Using a Murine Intraperitoneal Infection Model and In Vitro Macrophage Assays.PLoS One. 2015; 10(4):e0124667.Plos
Burkholderia pseudomallei, the etiologic agent of melioidosis, is a gram-negative facultative intracellular bacterium. This bacterium is endemic in Southeast Asia and Northern Australia and can infect humans and animals by several routes. It has also been estimated to present a considerable risk as a potential biothreat agent. There are currently no effective vaccines for B. pseudomallei, and antibiotic treatment can be hampered by nonspecific symptomology, the high incidence of naturally occurring antibiotic resistant strains, and disease chronicity. Accordingly, there is a concerted effort to better characterize B. pseudomallei and its associated disease. Before novel vaccines and therapeutics can be tested in vivo, a well characterized animal model is essential. Previous work has indicated that mice may be a useful animal model. In order to develop standardized animal models of melioidosis, different strains of bacteria must be isolated, propagated, and characterized. Using a murine intraperitoneal (IP) infection model, we tested the virulence of 11 B. pseudomallei strains. The IP route offers a reproducible way to rank virulence that can be readily reproduced by other laboratories. This infection route is also useful in distinguishing significant differences in strain virulence that may be masked by the exquisite susceptibility associated with other routes of infection (e.g., inhalational). Additionally, there were several pathologic lesions observed in mice following IP infection. These included varisized abscesses in the spleen, liver, and haired skin. This model indicated that commonly used laboratory strains of B. pseudomallei (i.e., K96243 and 1026b) were significantly less virulent as compared to more recently acquired clinical isolates. Additionally, we characterized in vitro strain-associated differences in virulence for macrophages and described a potential inverse relationship between virulence in the IP mouse model of some strains and in the macrophage phagocytosis assay. Strains which were more virulent for mice (e.g., HBPU10304a) were often less virulent in the macrophage assays, as determined by several parameters such as intracellular bacterial replication and host cell cytotoxicity.