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Open Access Coxiella burnetii Infection in C.B-17 Scid-bg Mice Xenotransplanted with Fetal Bovine Tissue

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Two from a group of approximately 50 C. B-17 scid-bg mice were examined because of lethargy, dehydration, and rough coat. Three months prior to development of clinical signs of disease, mice of this study had been surgically implanted with fetal bovine liver, thymus, and lymph node. At necropsy, marked splenomegaly and mild hepatomegaly were observed in both animals. Large areas of necrosis and inflammation, with associated intracytoplasmic granular basophilic inclusions, were observed in histologic sections of multiple organs. Aerobic and anaerobic culturing of the liver yielded negative results. Six months after the initial case, four more reconstituted scid-bg mice from a different fetal donor had identical clinical, gross, and histologic signs of disease. To determine whether the basophilic inclusions represented an infective agent, 4-month-old immune-naïve C. B-17 scid-bg mice were inoculated intraperitoneally with a liver and spleen homogenate from an affected mouse. Two weeks after inoculation, mice developed clinical signs of disease and lesions identical to those seen in the signal mice. On ultrastructural examination of the liver, pleomorphic bacteria were found in large cytoplasmic vacuoles of hepatocytes. Bacterial DNA was amplified from the liver, using primers that amplify a segment of the16S rRNA gene from many bacterial species. Sequencing of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) product revealed gene sequence identical to that of Coxiella burnetii, the agent of Q-fever. These results highlight the need to consider infective agents of the donor species when working with xenografted animals.

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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Research Animal Diagnostic and Investigative Laboratory, Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri 65211

Publication date: 2001-08-01

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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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