Dissemination of Orientia tsutsugamushi, a Causative Agent of Scrub Typhus, and Immunological Responses in the Humanized DRAGA Mouse.
ABSTRACT: Scrub typhus is caused by Orientia tsutsugamushi, an obligated intracellular bacterium that affects over one million people per year. Several mouse models have been used to study its pathogenesis, disease immunology, and for testing vaccine candidates. However, due to the intrinsic differences between the immune systems in mouse and human, these mouse models could not faithfully mimic the pathology and immunological responses developed by human patients, limiting their value in both basic and translational studies. In this study, we have tested for the first time, a new humanized mouse model through footpad inoculation of O. tsutsugamushi in DRAGA (HLA-A2.HLA-DR4.Rag1KO.IL2R?cKO.NOD) mice with their human immune system reconstituted by infusion of HLA-matched human hematopoietic stem cells from umbilical cord blood. Upon infection, Orientia disseminated into various organs of DRAGA mice resulted in lethality in a dose-dependent manner, while all C3H/HeJ mice infected by the same route survived. Tissue-specific lesions associated with inflammation and/or necroses were observed in multiple organs of infected DRAGA mice. Consistent with the intracellular nature of Orientia, strong Th1, but subdued Th2 responses were elicited as reflected by the human cytokine profiles in sera from infected mice. Interestingly, the percentage of both activated and regulatory (CD4+FOXP3+) human T cells were elevated in spleen tissues of infected mice. After immunization with irradiated whole cell Orientia, humanized DRAGA mice showed a significant activation of human T cells as evidenced by increased number of human CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. Specific human IgM and IgG antibodies were developed after repetitive immunization. The humanized DRAGA mouse model represents a new pre-clinical model for studying Orientia-human interactions and also for testing vaccines and novel therapeutics for scrub typhus.
Project description:Scrub typhus is caused by an obligated intracellular organism, Orientia tsutsugamushi (Orientia). The disease was traditionally thought to be limited in the tsutsugamushi triangle. Recently, scrub typhus has been confirmed in areas outside the triangle. Serological diagnosis of scrub typhus relies on indirect immunofluorescence assay (IFA). Molecular assays such as PCR, qPCR, loop-mediated isothermal amplification, and recombinase polymerase amplification are often targeting a single copy gene. These assays are sensitive and specific, yet they are not broadly used in clinical settings possibly due to low circulating Orientia in blood. In this study, we compared qPCR results using a multiple copy (traD) gene with those using a single copy (47 kDa) gene to assess the improvement of sensitivity and limit of detection. Our results demonstrate that the qPCR using the traD gene provides superior sensitivity in 15 Orientia strains. The limit of detection is below single Orientia genome equivalent and the assay retains specificity with excessive DNA from mouse, chiggers and human. The clinical utility was evaluated using confirmed scrub typhus positive and negative samples. The results show 100% sensitivity and specificity in these samples suggesting that the traD gene qPCR may be useful for clinical diagnosis of Orientia infection.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Scrub typhus, a febrile illness of substantial incidence and mortality, is caused by infection with the obligately intracellular bacterium Orientia tsutsugamushi. It is estimated that there are more than one million cases annually transmitted by the parasitic larval stage of trombiculid mites in the Asia-Pacific region. The antigenic and genetic diversity of the multiple strains of O. tsutsugamushi hinders the advancement of laboratory diagnosis, development of long-lasting vaccine-induced protection, and interpretation of clinical infection. Despite the life-threatening severity of the illness in hundreds of thousands of cases annually, 85-93% of patients survive, often without anti-rickettsial treatment. To more completely understand the disease caused by Orientia infection, animal models which closely correlate with the clinical manifestations, target cells, organ involvement, and histopathologic lesions of human cases of scrub typhus should be employed. Previously, our laboratory has extensively characterized two relevant C57BL/6 mouse models using O. tsutsugamushi Karp strain: a route-specific intradermal model of infection and persistence and a hematogenously disseminated dose-dependent lethal model. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:To complement the lethal model, here we illustrate a sublethal model in the same mouse strain using the O. tsutsugamushi Gilliam strain, which resulted in dose-dependent severity of illness, weight loss, and systemic dissemination to endothelial cells of the microcirculation and mononuclear phagocytic cells. Histopathologic lesions included expansion of the pulmonary interstitium by inflammatory cell infiltrates and multifocal hepatic lesions with mononuclear cellular infiltrates, renal interstitial lymphohistiocytic inflammation, mild meningoencephalitis, and characteristic typhus nodules. SIGNIFICANCE:These models parallel characteristics of human cases of scrub typhus, and will be used in concert to understand differences in severity which lead to lethality or host control of the infection and to address the explanation for short duration of heterologous immunity in Orientia infection.
Project description:Orientia tsutsugamushi causes scrub typhus and is a rural zoonosis endemic in the Asia Pacific region. This is the first report of O. tsutsugamushi TA716-like strain in a human in Thailand. The patient was in the 1st trimester of pregnancy when she developed scrub typhus. The O. tsutsugamushi strain TA716 was detected from her admission blood sample, and the pregnancy ended in spontaneous abortion. The effects of scrub typhus in pregnant women and the pregnancy outcome are sparsely documented in the published medical literature. Improved clinical recognition and laboratory diagnosis will be essential to better define the morbidity caused by this zoonosis especially in pregnancy.
Project description:Scrub typhus is a potentially lethal infection caused by the obligate intracellular bacterium Orientia tsutsugamushi Reports on the emergence of doxycycline-resistant strains highlight the urgent need to develop novel antiinfectives against scrub typhus. Corallopyronin A (CorA) is a novel ?-pyrone compound synthesized by the myxobacterium Corallococcus coralloides that was characterized as a noncompetitive inhibitor of the switch region of the bacterial RNA polymerase (RNAP). We investigated the antimicrobial action of CorA against the human-pathogenic Karp strain of O. tsutsugamushiin vitro and in vivo The MIC of CorA against O. tsutsugamushi was remarkably low (0.0078 ?g/ml), 16-fold lower than that against Rickettsia typhi In the lethal intraperitoneal O. tsutsugamushi mouse infection model, a minimum daily dose of 100 ?g CorA protected 100% of infected mice. Two days of treatment were sufficient to confer protection. In contrast to BALB/c mice, SCID mice succumbed to the infection despite treatment with CorA or tetracycline, suggesting that antimicrobial treatment required synergistic action of the adaptive immune response. Similar to tetracycline, CorA did not prevent latent infection of O. tsutsugamushiin vivo However, latency was not caused by acquisition of antimicrobial resistance, since O. tsutsugamushi reisolated from latently infected BALB/c mice remained fully susceptible to CorA. No mutations were found in the CorA-binding regions of the ? and ?' RNAP subunit genes rpoB and rpoC Inhibition of the RNAP switch region of O. tsutsugamushi by CorA is therefore a novel and highly potent target for antimicrobial therapy for scrub typhus.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Scrub typhus is an acute febrile disease caused by Orientia tsutsugamushi infection. Recently, the rapid increase of scrub typhus incidence in several countries within the endemic region has become a serious public health issue. Despite the wide range of preventative approaches that have been attempted in the past 70 years, all have failed to develop an effective prophylactic vaccine. Currently, the selection of the proper antigens is one of the critical barriers to generating cross-protective immunity against antigenically-variable strains of O. tsutsugamushi. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:We examined the potential role of ScaA protein, an autotransporter protein of O. tsutsugamushi, in bacterial pathogenesis and evaluated the protective attributes of ScaA immunization in lethal O. tsutsugamushi infection in mice. Our findings demonstrate that ScaA functions as a bacterial adhesion factor, and anti-ScaA antibody significantly neutralizes bacterial infection of host cells. In addition, immunization with ScaA not only provides protective immunity against lethal challenges with the homologous strain, but also confers significant protection against heterologous strains when combined with TSA56, a major outer membrane protein of O. tsutsugamushi. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE:Immunization of ScaA proteins provides protective immunity in mice when challenged with the homologous strain and significantly enhanced protective immunity against infection with heterologous strains. To our knowledge, this is the most promising result of scrub typhus vaccination trials against infection of heterologous strains in mouse models thus far.
Project description:Orientia tsutsugamushi, the etiologic agent of potentially fatal scrub typhus, is characterized by a high antigenic diversity, which complicates the development of a broadly protective vaccine. Efficacy studies in murine and nonhuman primate models demonstrated the DNA vaccine candidate pKarp47, based upon the O. tsutsugamushi Karp 47-kD HtrA protein gene, to be a successful immunoprophylactic against scrub typhus. To characterize 47-kD HtrA protein diversity among human isolates of Orientia, we sequenced the full open reading frame (ORF) of the 47-kD HtrA gene and analyzed the translated amino acid sequences of 17 patient isolates from Thailand (n=13), Laos (n=2), Australia (n=1), and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) (n=1) and 9 reference strains: Karp (New Guinea), Kato (Japan), Ikeda (Japan), Gilliam (Burma), Boryong (Korea), TA763, TH1811 and TH1817 (Thailand), and MAK243 (China). The percentage identity (similarity) of translated amino acid sequences between 16 new isolates and 9 reference strains of O. tsutsugamushi ranged from 96.4% to 100% (97.4% to 100%). However, inclusion of the recently identified Orientia chuto sp. nov. reduced identity (similarity) values to 82.2% to 83.3% (90.4% to 91.4%). These results demonstrate the diversity of Orientia 47-kD HtrA among isolates encountered by humans and therefore provide support for the necessity of developing a broadly protective scrub typhus vaccine that takes this diversity into account.
Project description:Orientia tsutsugamushi, an obligate intracellular bacterium, is the causative agent of scrub typhus. As O. tsutsugamushi is detected in circulating monocytes during acute phase of scrub typhus, we wondered if this organism was able to infect monocytes. We showed here that O. tsutsugamushi replicated in monocytes from healthy donors. Using human whole genome microarrays, we found that O. tsutsugamushi the expression of genes in which up-regulated and down-modulated genes were equally distributed. , the expression of type I interferon, interferon-stimulated genes and M1-associated genes was significantly up-regulated. Second, O. tsutsugamushi the expression of apoptosis-related genes and induced cell death in monocytes. Live organisms were indispensable to type I interferon response and apoptosis and enhanced the expression of M1 cytokines. These findings were related to the transcriptional changes found in mononuclear cells from patients with scrub typhus. Hence, a microarray study revealed the up-regulation of 613 genes and the down-modulation of 517 genes. Importantly, IFN-related genes were specifically enriched and some features of M1 polarization were observed in patients, as found in O. tsutsugamushi-stimulated cells. Our results provide a comprehensive understanding of scrub typhus pathogenesis in which IFN-mediated activation of monocytes appears as critical. Overall design: Monocytes (1.5 x 105 per assay) were incubated with or without 3 x 105 O. tsutsugamushi organisms in RPMI 1640 containing 10% FBS, 20 mM HEPES and 2 mM L-glutamine (Invitrogen) for 2 hours. The raw data, from the Agilent feature extraction software, were preprocessed with background subtraction and quantile normalization. This pretreatment was performed by using a bioconductor limma package, called Agi4x44PreProcess (http://www.bioconductor.org/packages/2.3/bioc/html/ Agi4x44PreProcess.html)
Project description:Acute Q fever and scrub typhus are zoonoses endemic to southern Taiwan. Among the 137 patients with acute Q fever (89, 65.0%) or scrub typhus (43, 31.4%), we identified 5 patients (3.6%) who were co-infected with Coxiella burnetii and Orientia tsutsugamushi.
Project description:We report a case of scrub typhus in a 54-year-old man who was bitten by several terrestrial leeches during a trip to Chiloé Island in southern Chile in 2006. A molecular sample, identified as related to Orientia tsutsugamushi based on the sequence of the16S rRNA gene, was obtained from a biopsy specimen of the eschar on the patient's leg. Serologic analysis showed immunoglobulin G conversion against O. tsutsugamushi whole cell antigen. This case and its associated molecular analyses suggest that an Orientia-like agent is present in the Western Hemisphere that can produce scrub typhus-like illness. The molecular analysis suggests that the infectious agent is closely related, although not identical, to members of the Orientia sp. from Asia.
Project description:We screened Orientia tsutsugamushi from 385 domestic rodents and 19 humans with scrub typhus in rural Tai'an District, Shandong Province, a new scrub typhus epidemic area in northern China. Sequence analysis identified 7 genotypes in the rodents, of which 2 were also identified in the humans.