3 years ago

Mycobacterium bovis hosted by free-living-amoebae permits their long-term persistence survival outside of host mammalian cells and remain capable of transmitting disease to mice

Mercedes Gonzalez-Juarrero, Andrés Obregón-Henao, Andrea Sanchez-Hidalgo, Mary Jackson, William H. Wheat
Bovine tuberculosis (TB) is a zoonotic disease caused by Mycobacterium bovis. Despite intensive TB control campaigns, there are sporadic outbreaks of bovine TB in regions declared TB free. It is unclear how M. bovis is able to survive in the environment for long periods of time. We hypothesized that Free-living amoebae (FLA), as ubiquitous inhabitants of soil and water, may act as long-term reservoirs of M. bovis in the environment. In our model, M. bovis would be taken up by amoebal trophozoites, which are the actively feeding, replicating and mobile form of FLA. Upon exposure to hostile environmental conditions, infected FLA will encyst and provide an intracellular niche allowing their M. bovis cargo to persist for extended periods of time. Here, we show that five FLA species (Acanthamoeba polyphaga, Acanthamoeba castellanii, Acanthamoeba lenticulata, Vermamoeba vermiformis and Dictyostellium discoideum) are permissive to M. bovis infection and that the M. bovis bacilli may survive within the cysts of four of these species for over 60 days. We further show that exposure of M. bovis-infected trophozoites and cysts to Balb/c mice leads to pulmonary TB. This work describes for the first time that FLA carrying M. bovis can transmit TB.

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1111/1462-2920.13810

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