Comparison of three non-human primate aerosol models for glanders, caused by Burkholderia mallei.Microb Pathog. 2021 Jun; 155:104919.MP
Burkholderia mallei is a gram-negative obligate animal pathogen that causes glanders, a highly contagious and potentially fatal disease of solipeds including horses, mules, and donkeys. Humans are also susceptible, and exposure can result in a wide range of clinical forms, i.e., subclinical infection, chronic forms with remission and exacerbation, or acute and potentially lethal septicemia and/or pneumonia. Due to intrinsic antibiotic resistance and the ability of the organisms to survive intracellularly, current treatment regimens are protracted and complicated; and no vaccine is available. As a consequence of these issues, and since B. mallei is infectious by the aerosol route, B. mallei is regarded as a major potential biothreat agent. To develop optimal medical countermeasures and diagnostic tests, well characterized animal models of human glanders are needed. The goal of this study was to perform a head-to-head comparison of models employing three commonly used nonhuman primate (NHP) species, the African green monkey (AGM), Rhesus macaque, and the Cynomolgus macaque. The natural history of infection and in vitro clinical, histopathological, immunochemical, and bacteriological parameters were examined. The AGMs were the most susceptible NHP to B. mallei; five of six expired within 14 days. Although none of the Rhesus or Cynomolgus macaques succumbed, the Rhesus monkeys exhibited abnormal signs and clinical findings associated with B. mallei infection; and the latter may be useful for modeling chronic B. mallei infection. Based on the disease progression observations, gross and histochemical pathology, and humoral and cellular immune response findings, the AGM appears to be the optimal model of acute, lethal glanders infection. AGM models of infection by B. pseudomallei, the etiologic agent of melioidosis, have been characterized recently. Thus, the selection of the AGM species provides the research community with a single NHP model for investigations on acute, severe, inhalational melioidosis and glanders.