Open Access Rabbit Intestinal Xenograft Model for Human Encephalitozoon Infections in Mice

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Abstract:

Background and Purpose: The gastrointestinal tract is a common portal of entry for Encephalitozoon cuniculi, one of several microsporidial organisms emerging as opportunistic pathogens in immunocompromised humans. Although most human microsporidial pathogens can be propagated in vitro and in a variety of laboratory animals, an experimental animal system to specifically study intestinal uptake and systemic spread of these organisms does not exist.

Methods: Paired segments of near-term fetal rabbit small intestine were implanted subcutaneously into 25 athymic nude or 10 severe combined immune deficient mice. Five weeks after surgery, 65 xenografts were inoculated intraluminally with E. cuniculi (n = 14), E. intestinalis (n = 27), E. hellem (n = 20), or RK-13 cells (n = 2), or were left uninoculated (n = 2).

Results: Intestinal xenograft infection with E. cuniculi (n = 11), E. intestinalis (n = 17), and E. hellem (n = 18) was determined by light microscopy; control xenografts remained uninfected. Extraintestinal infection with E. cuniculi developed in host mouse brain, respiratory tract, spleen, salivary glands, and gastrointestinal tract (3 of 3 mice), and infection with E. intestinalis developed in the liver (8 of 15 mice).

Conclusion: Intestinal xenografts provide a unique, sterile, and biologically relevant animal model system for studying host enterocyte/parasite interactions, mechanisms of microsporidial pathogenicity, antimicrosporidial chemotherapeutic agents, and immune effector mechanisms. This model provides evidence for persistent graft infection with three Encephalitozoon spp., and for intestinal spread of E. cuniculi and E. intestinalis from infected enterocytes in immunoincompetent mice.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois 2: Department of Pathobiology, The Texas Veterinary Medical Center, Texas A & M University, College Station, Texas 3: Department of Microbiology, Tulane Regional Primate Research Center, Covington, Louisiana 4: Department of Pathobiology, The Texas Veterinary Medical Center, Texas A & M University, College Station, Texas, Heska Corporation, Fort Collins, Colorado 5: Department of Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, 2806 Veterinary Medicine Basic Sciences Building, MC-002, 2001 S. Lincoln Avenue, Urbana, IL 61802

Publication date: April 1, 1999

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  • Comparative Medicine (CM), an international journal of comparative and experimental medicine, is the leading English-language publication in the field and is ranked by the Science Citation Index in the upper third of all scientific journals. The mission of CM is to disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed information that expands biomedical knowledge and promotes human and animal health through the study of laboratory animal disease, animal models of disease, and basic biologic mechanisms related to disease in people and animals.

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