Effort has been made to identify protective antigens in order to develop a recombinant vaccine against leptospirosis. Several attempts failed to conclusively demonstrate efficacy of vaccine candidates due to the lack of an appropriate model of lethal leptospirosis. The purposes of our study were: (i) to test the virulence of leptospiral isolates from Brazil, which are representative of important serogroups that cause disease in humans and animals; and (ii) to standardize the lethal dose 50% (LD50) for each of the virulent strains using a hamster (Mesocricetus auratus) model. Five of seven Brazilian isolates induced lethality in a hamster model, with inocula lower than 200 leptospires. Histopathological examination of infected animals showed typical lesions found in both natural and experimental leptospirosis. Results described here demonstrated the potential use of Brazilian isolates as highly virulent strains in challenge experiments using hamster as an appropriate animal model for leptospirosis. Furthermore these strains may be useful in heterologous challenge studies which aim to evaluate cross-protective responses induced by subunit vaccine candidates.
Leptospira; leptospirosis; lethal dose; isolation; animal model; virulence
Human and animal leptospirosis caused by Leptospira spp. belonging to serogroup Ballum has increased worldwide in the past decade. We report the isolation and serologic and molecular characterization of four L. borgpetersenii serogroup Ballum isolates obtained from Mus musculus, and preliminary virulence studies. These isolates are useful for diagnosis of leptospirosis and for epidemiologic studies of its virulence and pathogenic mechanisms.
Rats are known to be the most important reservoirs and transmission sources of leptospirosis. However, the status of leptospirosis in the Philippines regarding reservoirs and transmission remains unknown. A survey was conducted in Metro Manila and Laguna that analyzed samples obtained from 106 rats. Using the microscopic agglutination test, we found that 92% of rat serum samples were positive for anti-Leptospira antibodies; the most common infecting serovars were Manilae, Hebdomadis, and Losbanos. On the basis of pulsed-field gel electrophoresis and gyrase B gene sequence analyses, four groups of rat kidney isolates were found: L. interrogans serovar Manilae, serovar Losbanos, and serogroup Grippotyphosa, and L. borgpetersenii serogroup Javanica. Most isolates were lethal after experimental infection of golden Syrian hamsters. Results showed that these four Leptospira serovars and serogroups are circulating among rats, and that these animals may be one of the possible transmission sources of leptospirosis in the Philippines.
Leptospirosis is one of the most widespread zoonoses in the world. However, there is a lack of information on circulating Leptospira strains in remote parts of the world. We describe the serological and molecular features of leptospires isolated from 94 leptospirosis patients in Mayotte, a French department located in the Comoros archipelago, between 2007 and 2010. Multilocus sequence typing identified these isolates as Leptospira interrogans, L. kirschneri, L. borgpetersenii, and members of a previously undefined phylogenetic group. This group, consisting of 15 strains, could represent a novel species. Serological typing revealed that 70% of the isolates belonged to the serogroup complex Mini/Sejroe/Hebdomadis, followed by the serogroups Pyrogenes, Grippotyphosa, and Pomona. However, unambiguous typing at the serovar level was not possible for most of the strains because the isolate could belong to more than one serovar or because serovar and species did not match the original classification. Our results indicate that the serovar and genotype distribution in Mayotte differs from what is observed in other regions, thus suggesting a high degree of diversity of circulating isolates worldwide. These results are essential for the improvement of current diagnostic tools and provide a starting point for a better understanding of the epidemiology of leptospirosis in this area of endemicity.
Our objective was to identify local animal reservoirs of leptospirosis to explain the unusual features of Leptospira strains recently described among patients on the island of Mayotte. By means of a microscopic agglutination test using local clinical isolates, we found that 11.2% of black rats were seropositive to Leptospira, whereas 10.2% of flying foxes, 2% of lemurs, 93.1% of domestic dogs, and 87.5% of stray dogs were seropositive. As observed in humans, Mini was the main serogroup circulating in animals, whereas serogroup Icterohaemorrhagiae was absent. Using quantitative polymerase chain reaction, we also showed that 29.8% of rats carried leptospires in their kidneys. The sequencing of 16S rRNA gene sequences of Leptospira found in black rat kidneys identified four genomospecies (Leptospira borgpetersenii, Leptospira interrogans, Leptospira kirschneri, and L. borgpetersenii group B), which established black rats as the major source of leptospirosis transmission to humans. The origins of such a genetic diversity in Leptospira strains are discussed.
Leptospirosis is a worldwide-distributed zoonosis, endemic in tropical areas. Epidemiologic investigations of leptospirosis still rely on tedious serological identification tests. Recently, molecular typing systems based on variable-number tandem-repeat (VNTR) analysis have been described and have been used to identify Leptospira interrogans strains. Although L. interrogans is the most common Leptospira species encountered in human infections around the world, other pathogenic species, such as Leptospira kirschneri and Leptospira borgpetersenii, are also frequently associated with human leptospirosis. In this study, we aimed to extend multilocus VNTR analysis (MLVA) identification of strains to species other than L. interrogans. We designed primers for VNTR loci found in L. interrogans, L. kirschneri, and L. borgpetersenii. The discriminatory power of the redefined primers was evaluated on collection strains and then on clinical strains. We also carried out a retrospective study on 156 strains isolated from patients and animals from New Caledonia, an area of high endemicity in the South Pacific. Our results show that this simple PCR-based MLVA typing technique is a powerful methodology for the epidemiology of leptospirosis.
Leptospirosis is one of the most important neglected tropical bacterial diseases in Latin America and the Caribbean. However, very little is known about the circulating etiological agents of leptospirosis in this region. In this study, we describe the serological and molecular features of leptospires isolated from 104 leptospirosis patients in Guadeloupe (n = 85) and Martinique (n = 19) and six rats captured in Guadeloupe, between 2004 and 2012.
Methods and Findings
Strains were studied by serogrouping, PFGE, MLVA, and sequencing 16SrRNA and secY. DNA extracts from blood samples collected from 36 patients in Martinique were also used for molecular typing of leptospires via PCR. Phylogenetic analyses revealed thirteen different genotypes clustered into five main clades that corresponded to the species: L. interrogans, L. kirschneri, L. borgpetersenii, L. noguchi, and L. santarosai. We also identified L. kmetyi in at least two patients with acute leptospirosis. This is the first time, to our knowledge, that this species has been identified in humans. The most prevalent genotypes were associated with L. interrogans serovars Icterohaemorrhagiae and Copenhageni, L. kirschneri serovar Bogvere, and L. borgpetersenii serovar Arborea. We were unable to identify nine strains at the serovar level and comparison of genotyping results to the MLST database revealed new secY alleles.
The overall serovar distribution in the French West Indies was unique compared to the neighboring islands. Typing of leptospiral isolates also suggested the existence of previously undescribed serovars.
Leptospirosis is an emerging zoonotic disease caused by infection with pathogenic strains of Leptospira. Isolation of Leptospira strains is rare, making it difficult to assess their distribution worldwide. In this study, we characterized cultures of Leptospira obtained from more than one hundred leptospirosis patients from the French West Indies by serology and various molecular typing methods to identify the strains circulating in this endemic region. Typing of leptospiral isolates showed that causative agents of leptospirosis in the French West Indies are mainly from the serogroups Icterohaemorrhagiae and Ballum, but we also identified new genotypes. We also found that the distribution of the predominant pathogenic leptospiral serovars differed between the Caribbean islands. A better understanding of the epidemiology of leptospirosis will improve our knowledge in the distribution of this emerging neglected tropical disease worldwide. The identification of the circulating etiological agents of leptospirosis in the French West Indies will also help establish appropriate control and prevention measures in this area where the disease is endemic.
The main goal of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of leptospirosis among field rodents of Tiruchirappalli district, Tamil Nadu, India. In total 35 field rats were trapped and tested for seroprevalence by the microscopic agglutination test (MAT). Isolation of leptospires was performed from blood and kidney tissues and characterized to serovar level. Genomospecies identification was carried out using 16S rRNA and lipL32 gene sequencing. The molecular phylogeny was constructed to find out species segregation. Seroprevalence was about 51.4 %, and the predominant serovars were Autumnalis, Javanica, Icterohaemorrhagiae and Pomona. Two isolates from the kidneys were identified as serovar Javanica of Serogroup Javanica, and sequence based molecular phylogeny indicated these two isolates were Leptospira borgpetersenii.
Leptospirosis; Leptospira borgpetersenii; lipL32; 16S rRNA
Infection by Pichinde virus, a member of the arenavirus group, was studied in Golden Syrian hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus) with regard to possible mechanisms of resistance to virus infection in adult hamsters. Two hamster strains were found to differ in their susceptibility to lethal Pichinde virus infection. LVG/Lak randomly bred hamsters were found to be 100% susceptible to low doses of Pichinde virus during the first 6 days of life, but after 8 days of life, mortality was uncommon. Peak virus titers in the serum of animals infected at 3 days of life were 4 logs greater than in animals infected at 12 days. MHA/Lak inbred hamsters, in contrast, were found to be susceptible to lethal virus infection both as newborns and as adults. Peak virus titers of greater than 108 plaque-forming units/ml were observed in serum 8 days after infection of adult MHA hamsters as compared with less than 103 plaque-forming units/ml in the serum of adult LVG hamsters. Cultured primary kidney cells and peritoneal macrophages from either hamster strain supported Pichinde virus replication equally well in vitro. Antibodies to the complement-fixing antigens and to antigens at the surface of virus-infected cells were produced by both strains of hamsters. Cyclophosphamide immunosuppression rendered adult LVG animals susceptible to lethal infections, and virus grew to high titers in the treated animals. These findings suggest that immunological factors that appear early in life in LVG hamsters and are deficient in MHA hamsters limit Pichinde virus infection. Unlike previously reported arenavirus diseases, the observations suggest that death is produced by a direct viral effect and not through immunopathological mechanisms.
Leptospirosis is a widespread zoonosis characterized by multiple organ failure and variable host susceptibility toward pathogenic Leptospira strains. In this study, we put the role of inflammatory mediators in parallel with bacterial burdens and organ lesions by comparing a susceptible animal model, the hamster, and a resistant one, the Oncins France 1 (OF1) mouse, both infected with virulent Leptospira interrogans serovar Icterohaemorrhagiae strain Verdun. Histological observations evidenced edema, congestion, hemorrhage, and inflammatory infiltration in the organs of hamsters, in contrast to limited changes in mice. Using reverse transcription-quantitative PCR techniques, we showed that the relative Leptospira burden progressively increased in hamster tissues, while a rapid clearance was observed in mouse tissues. The early regulation of the proinflammatory mediators interleukin-1β (IL-1β), IL-6, tumor necrosis factor alpha, and cyclo-oxygenase-2 and the chemokines gamma interferon-inducible protein 10 kDa/CXCL10 and macrophage inflammatory protein-1α/CCL3 in mouse tissues contrasted with their delayed and massive overexpression in hamster tissues. Conversely, the induction of the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 was faster in the resistant than in the susceptible animal model. The role of these cytokines in the pathophysiology of leptospirosis and the implications of their differential regulation in the development of this disease are discussed.
The leptospiral LigA protein consists of 13 bacterial immunoglobulin-like (Big) domains and is the only purified recombinant subunit vaccine that has been demonstrated to protect against lethal challenge by a clinical isolate of Leptospira interrogans in the hamster model of leptospirosis. We determined the minimum number and location of LigA domains required for immunoprotection. Immunization with domains 11 and 12 was found to be required but insufficient for protection. Inclusion of a third domain, either 10 or 13, was required for 100% survival after intraperitoneal challenge with Leptospira interrogans serovar Copenhageni strain Fiocruz L1-130. As in previous studies, survivors had renal colonization; here, we quantitated the leptospiral burden by qPCR to be 1.2×103 to 8×105 copies of leptospiral DNA per microgram of kidney DNA. Although renal histopathology in survivors revealed tubulointerstitial changes indicating an inflammatory response to the infection, blood chemistry analysis indicated that renal function was normal. These studies define the Big domains of LigA that account for its vaccine efficacy and highlight the need for additional strategies to achieve sterilizing immunity to protect the mammalian host from leptospiral infection and its consequences.
Leptospirosis is the most widespread bacterial infection transmitted to humans from host animals that harbor the bacteria in their kidneys. Human infections caused by the bacterium, Leptospira interrogans, frequently result in a life-threatening illness characterized by jaundice and kidney failure. Vaccines are urgently needed to prevent leptospirosis in populations at risk. The leptospiral protein, LigA, is a promising vaccine candidate because it is the first purified protein to be shown to protect animals from fatal leptospirosis. The goal of this study was to determine which of LigA's 13 domains are required for the protective effect. Immunization with domains 11 and 12 was found to be required, but was insufficient, for protection. A third domain, either 10 or 13, was required for 100% survival. As in previous studies, residual bacteria were cultured from the kidneys of survivors. However, in contrast to previous studies, we determined the amount of bacterial DNA in the kidneys as a measure of vaccine efficacy. We also examined the kidneys microscopically for signs of damage and measured blood chemistries to assess kidney function. These are important steps towards developing vaccines that provide protection from kidney damage and infection.
Fingerprints for 72 reference serovar strains of pathogenic Leptospira spp. were obtained by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) following NotI restriction digests of the chromosome. These strains included the serovar reference strains of serogroups Australis, Ballum, Bataviae, Grippotyphosa, Panama, Pomona, and Pyrogenes. Sixty-four serovars could be identified by a unique NotI restriction profile. The remaining serovars were differentiated by chromosomal digestion with SgrAI. These included four serovars from serogroup Australis, two serovars from serogroup Ballum, and two serovars from serogroup Bataviae. Thirteen of 18 recent clinical isolates identified by microagglutination test and cross-adsorption procedure were correctly typed by PFGE. The results indicate that PFGE, which is considerably more rapid than serology, should be useful for identification and epidemiological studies.
An investigation was undertaken to assess the present importance of leptospiral infections in Northern Ireland, and in particular to look for evidence of infection by leptospiral serotypes other than L. icterohaemorrhagiae and L. canicola.
Blood samples from 335 patients, sent to the laboratory for a variety of tests, were examined. After initial screening with five groups of pooled antigens, tests for leptospiral agglutinins were completed with formolized antigens prepared from 13 different serotypes. In seven patients a diagnosis of acute leptospirosis was made while nine others showed serological evidence of previous leptospiral infection. Attempts to isolate leptospirae by culture from 29 blood samples were unsuccessful.
The serological results indicate that two additional leptospiral serotypes, namely L. ballum and L. bratislava, are causing human infection in Northern Ireland, and presumably also in other parts of the British Isles. Some clinical and epidemiological features associated with different types of leptospiral infection are described. It is stressed that leptospirosis is essentially a febrile illness, that meningeal symptoms are common, and that (contrary to popular belief) jaundice is by no means a constant occurrence.
The implications of these findings are discussed, with special reference to the diagnosis of leptospiral infections. Laboratory diagnostic procedures are briefly reviewed, and the possible deficiencies of the agglutination test commonly used in Britain are pointed out. Some suggestions are made concerning both clinical and laboratory aspects of diagnosis, and the need for a reliable screening test for all forms of leptospiral infection is emphasized.
New vaccine strategies are needed for prevention of leptospirosis,
a widespread human and veterinary disease caused by invasive
spirochetes belonging to the genus Leptospira. We have
examined the immunoprotective capacity of the leptospiral porin OmpL1
and the leptospiral outer membrane lipoprotein LipL41 in the Golden
Syrian hamster model of leptospirosis. Specialized expression plasmids
were developed to facilitate expression of leptospiral proteins in
Escherichia coli as the membrane-associated proteins
OmpL1-M and LipL41-M. Although OmpL1-M expression is highly toxic in
E. coli, this was accomplished by using plasmid
pMMB66-OmpL1, which has undetectable background expression without
induction. LipL41-M expression and processing were enhanced by altering
its lipoprotein signal peptidase cleavage site to mimic that of the
murein lipoprotein. Active immunization of hamsters with E.
coli membrane fractions containing a combination of OmpL1-M and
LipL41-M was found to provide significant protection against homologous
challenge with Leptospira kirschneri serovar grippotyphosa.
At 28 days after intraperitoneal inoculation, survival in animals
vaccinated with both proteins was 71% (95% confidence interval
[CI], 53 to 89%), compared with only 25% (95% CI, 8 to 42%) in
the control group (P < 0.001). On the basis of
serological, histological, and microbiological assays, no evidence of
infection was found in the vaccinated survivors. The protective effects
of immunization with OmpL1-M and LipL41-M were synergistic, since
significant levels of protection were not observed in animals immunized
with either OmpL1-M or LipL41-M alone. In contrast to immunization with
the membrane-associated forms of leptospiral proteins, hamsters
immunized with His6-OmpL1 and His6-LipL41
fusion proteins, either alone or in combination, were not protected.
These data indicate that the manner in which OmpL1 and LipL41
associates with membranes is an important determinant of
An age-dependent aspect of resistance to Cryptosporidium muris (strain MCR) infection was monitored in Syrian golden hamsters, Mesocricetus auratus, at 1-, 5- and 10-week of age and in ICR mice, Mus musculus, at 3-, 12-, and 15-week of age orally inoculated with a single dose of 2×106 oocysts, respectively. The prepatent periods for both animals were similar, independent of age, but the patency was significantly longer in younger hamsters (P<0.001) and a long tendency in younger mice. Hamsters infected at 1-week of age excreted about 10 times higher oocysts than those at 5- and 10-week of age. However, the total oocyst output was similar among mice of different ages. There was a good correlation between the length of the patency and the total oocyst output in hamsters (R=0.9646), but not in mice (R=0.4561). The immunogenicity of the parasite to homologous challenge infections was very strong in hamsters and relatively strong in mice. These results indicate that acquired resistance to C. muris infection is age-related and the innate resistance is independent of age of hamsters, and that both innate and acquired resistance, on the contrary, are irrespective of age of mice.
Cryptosporidium muris (strain MCR); golden hamster; mice; transmission experiment; age-dependent resistance; immunogenicity
Subunit vaccines are a potential intervention strategy against leptospirosis, which is a major public health problem in developing countries and a veterinary disease in livestock and companion animals worldwide. Leptospiral immunoglobulin-like (Lig) proteins are a family of surface-exposed determinants that have Ig-like repeat domains found in virulence factors such as intimin and invasin. We expressed fragments of the repeat domain regions of LigA and LigB from Leptospira interrogans serovar Copenhageni. Immunization of Golden Syrian hamsters with Lig fragments in Freund’s adjuvant induced robust antibody responses against recombinant protein and native protein, as detected by ELISA and immunoblot, respectively. A single fragment, LigANI, which corresponds to the six carboxy-terminal Ig-like repeat domains of the LigA molecule, conferred immunoprotection against mortality (67-100%, P <0.05) in hamsters which received a lethal inoculum of L. interrogans serovar Copenhageni. However, immunization with this fragment did not confer sterilizing immunity. These findings indicate that the carboxy-terminal portion of LigA is an immunoprotective domain and may serve as a vaccine candidate for human and veterinary leptospirosis.
Leptospirosis; subunit vaccine; Leptospiral immunoglobulin-like protein; recombinant protein; immunity; antibodies; hamsters
Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) is a key antigen in immunity to leptospirosis. Its biosynthesis requires enzymes for the biosynthesis and polymerization of nucleotide sugars and the transport through and attachment to the bacterial membrane. The genes encoding these functions are commonly clustered into loci; for Leptospira borgpetersenii serovar Hardjo subtype Hardjobovis, this locus, named rfb, spans 36.7 kb and contains 31 open reading frames, of which 28 have been assigned putative functions on the basis of sequence similarity. Characterization of the function of these genes is hindered by the fact that it is not possible to construct isogenic mutant strains in Leptospira. We used two approaches to circumvent this problem. The first was to clone the entire locus into a heterologous host system and determine if a “recombinant” LPS or polysaccharide was synthesized in the new host. The second approach used putative functions to identify mutants in other bacterial species whose mutations might be complemented by genes on the leptospiral rfb locus. This approach was used to investigate the function of three genes in the leptospiral rfb locus and demonstrated function for orfH10, which complemented a wbpM strain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and orfH13, which complemented an rfbW strain of Vibrio cholerae. However, despite the similarity of OrfH11 to WecC, a wecC strain of E. coli was not complemented by orfH11. The predicted protein encoded by orfH8 is similar to GalE from a number of organisms. A Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium strain producing no GalE was used as a background in which orfH8 produced detectable GalE enzyme activity.
In this study, 191 culture isolates were recovered from suspected samples of animals and humans in Ellinghausen McCullough Johnson and Harris (EMJH) medium and assessed for its morphological features by dark field microscopy. Extracted DNA from individual culture was subjected to different PCR assays for identification and characterization of leptospira. Out of 99 positive leptospira cultures, 52 pathogenic leptospira isolates were characterized at species level by using partial RNA polymerase β-subunit (rpoB) gene sequences. Phylogenetic analysis of the nucleotide sequences revealed that 30, 8, and 14 isolates belong to L. borgpetersenii / L. interrogans, L. kirschneri, and Leptospira intermediate species, respectively. Based on analysis of 99 leptospira isolates, the prevalent Leptospira species were L. borgpetersenii or L. interrogans (30.30%), L. kirschneri (8%) and Leptospira intermediate species (14.14%) in animals and humans. To the best of authors knowledge, this is the first study to use rpoB gene nucleotide sequence based phylogenetic analysis to identify/detect Leptospira intermediate species (L. wolffii) in animals and humans in India. Hence, the prevalence of this species will surely emphasize the importance of consideration of Leptospira intermediate species and formulate a way for further studies especially in understanding the newly emerging Leptospira in animals and humans and to combat the problem associated with the disease conditions.
Leptospira; Animals; Human; Characterization; Prevalence; Intermediate species
Leptospirosis has been implicated as a severe and fatal form of disease in Mayotte, a French-administrated territory located in the Comoros archipelago (southwestern Indian Ocean). To date, Leptospira isolates have never been isolated in this endemic region.
Methods and Findings
Leptospires were isolated from blood samples from 22 patients with febrile illness during a 17-month period after a PCR-based screening test was positive. Strains were typed using hyper-immune antisera raised against the major Leptospira serogroups: 20 of 22 clinical isolates were assigned to serogroup Mini; the other two strains belonged to serogroups Grippotyphosa and Pyrogenes, respectively. These isolates were further characterized using partial sequencing of 16S rRNA and ligB gene, Multi Locus VNTR Analysis (MLVA), and pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). Of the 22 isolates, 14 were L. borgpetersenii strains, 7 L. kirschneri strains, and 1, belonging to serogoup Pyrogenes, was L. interrogans. Results of the genotyping methods were consistent. MLVA defined five genotypes, whereas PFGE allowed the recognition of additional subgroups within the genotypes. PFGE fingerprint patterns of clinical strains did not match any of the patterns in the reference strains belonging to the same serogroup, suggesting that the strains were novel serovars.
Preliminary PCR screening of blood specimen allowed a high isolation frequency of leptospires among patients with febrile illness. Typing of leptospiral isolates showed that causative agents of leptospirosis in Mayotte have unique molecular features.
Leptospirosis has been recognized as an increasing public health problem affecting poor people from developing countries and tropical regions. However, the epidemiology of leptospirosis remains poorly understood in remote parts of the world. In this study of patients from the island of Mayotte, we isolated 22 strains from the blood of patients during the acute phase of illness. The pathogenic Leptospira strains were characterized by serology and various molecular typing methods. Based on serological data, serogroup Mini appears to be the dominant cause of leptospirosis in Mayotte. Further molecular characterization of these isolates allowed the identification of 10 pathogenic Leptospira genotypes that could correspond to previously unknown serovars. Further progress in our understanding of the epidemiology of Leptospira circulating genotypes in highly endemic regions should contribute to the development of novel strategies for the diagnosis and prevention of this neglected emerging disease.
Arbitrarily primed PCR (AP-PCR) assays can be used to discriminate between species of Leptospira. Comparative analysis of the fingerprints obtained from representative sets of serovar reference strains of Leptospira interrogans sensu stricto, L. borgpetersenii, and L. kirschneri and the reference strains of the other Leptospira spp. revealed species-specific DNA fragments. These species-specific sequences were reamplified in order to produce digoxigenin-11-dUTP-labeled genomic DNA probes that could be used to identify Leptospira species. Three probes (specific for L. interrogans sensu stricto, L. borgpetersenii, and L. kirschneri) were selected and tested with 72 representative serovar reference strains, all of which had previously been studied by DNA-DNA hybridization. The two techniques were in general agreement, and hybridization with AP-PCR-derived probes was shown to be a useful approach for rapid species determination of leptospires, without the prior need for DNA sequence information. These nonradioactive probes can be used to identify Leptospira species in nonspecialized laboratories, and this should contribute to a better knowledge of the molecular epidemiology of leptospirosis.
Human studies support the use of β-lactams and tetracyclines in the treatment of leptospirosis. Additional agents from these and other classes of antimicrobials also have in vitro activity against Leptospira species, though corroborating in vivo data are limited or lacking. We evaluated the therapeutic efficacy of azithromycin, clarithromycin, and telithromycin in a lethal hamster model of leptospirosis using Leptospira interrogans serogroup Canicola serovar Portlandvere. A range of dosages for each antimicrobial was given to the infected animals on days 2 through 7 (5 days) of the 21-day survival model. All untreated control animals survived less than 10 days from infection. Ninety to 100% of doxycycline controls, treated for 5 days with 5 mg/kg of body weight of drug, survived to 21 days. Treatment with azithromycin (daily dose: 6.25, 12.5, 25, 50, 100, or 200 mg/kg) resulted in 100% survival at all evaluated doses. Animals receiving 20 mg/kg or more of clarithromycin (daily dose: 1, 5, 10, 15, 20, 40, 60, or 100 mg/kg) had improved survival. Ninety-eight percent of animals treated with telithromycin (daily dose: 1, 5, 10, 15, 20, or 40 mg/kg) survived. We conclude that all agents tested have demonstrated in vivo efficacy in treating acute leptospirosis. These results provide support for further evaluation of macrolide and ketolide antimicrobial agents in human trials.
Serological surveys of leptospiral antibodies in cattle were carried out in Macon and the surrounding counties of East Central Alabama. A total of 286 bovine serum samples were screened for the presence of antibodies against live antigens from twelve pathogenic leptospiral serotypes using a microscopic agglutination test. The most frequently encountered serotypes were Leptospira hardjo (47%), Leptospira wolffi (34%), Leptospira canicola (12%), Leptospira pomona (10%) and Leptospira ballum (10%). Leptospira autumnalis, Leptospira grippotyphosa, Leptospira icterohemorrhagiae, Leptospira pyrogenes and Leptospira tarassovi were observed in less than 5% of the samples.
Leptospirosis is a worldwide zoonosis caused by pathogenic Leptospira. The whole-genome sequence of L. interrogans serovar Copenhageni together with bioinformatics tools represent a great opportunity to search for novel antigen candidates that could be used as subunit vaccine against leptospirosis. We focused on six genes encoding for conserved hypothetical proteins predicted to be exported to the outer membrane. The genes were amplified by PCR from Leptospira interrogans genomic DNA and were cloned and expressed in Escherichia coli. The recombinant proteins tagged with N-terminal hexahistidine were purified by metal-charged chromatography. The immunization of hamsters followed by challenge with lethal dose of virulent strain of Leptospira showed that the recombinant proteins Lsa21, Lsa66 and rLIC11030 elicited partial protection to animals. These proteins could be used combined or in a mixture with novel adjuvants in order to improve their effectiveness.
Leptospira interrogans; leptospirosis; recombinant protein; vaccine.
Leptospirosis is the most geographically widespread zoonotic disease in the world. A severe pulmonary form of leptospirosis (SPFL) is being recognized with increased frequency. We have reported that human SPFL isolates of Leptospira cause acute lethal infection with prominent pulmonary hemorrhage in guinea pigs. We have found that the same SPFL strains cause asymptomatic infection and chronic renal shedding in rats, where infection is restricted to the renal tubules. To address the antigenic composition of host tissue-derived Leptospira (HTL), motile leptospires were purified from guinea pig liver by centrifugation on Percoll density gradients and compared to Percoll-purified in vitro-cultivated Leptospira (IVCL). The lipopolysaccharide O antigen (Oag) content of guinea pig liver-derived HTL was markedly reduced compared to that of IVCL, as demonstrated both by immunoblotting with a monoclonal antibody that was serovar specific for Oag and by periodate-silver staining. Confocal microscopy of HTL in guinea pig liver and kidney with the Oag-specific monoclonal antibody provided further evidence that diminution of the Oag content occurred in situ during lethal infection. In contrast, the Oag content of HTL in chronically infected rat renal tubules was indistinguishable from that of IVCL. These findings suggest that there may be regulation of Oag synthesis by Leptospira specific to the animal host infected. The hypothesis that the Oag content is related to whether lethal infection or chronic renal tubular colonization occurs remains to be tested.
Hemorrhagic diathesis is one of the most striking manifestations in acute leptospirosis. Hemorrhages are seen in infections due to Leptospira icterohaemorrhagiae as well as in those caused by Leptospira pomona. Thrombocytopenia is a constant feature and its finding can be useful for the diagnosis. Attempts to demonstrate the presence of a toxin in leptospires were unsuccessful. A few years ago, a syndrome of disseminated intravascular coagulation was associated with the physiopathogenesis of experimental leptospirosis with L. icterohaemorrhagiae. More recently, this syndrome was identified in cases of human leptospirosis and in hamsters infected with L. pomona. It appears now that other spirochetal infections (borreliosis) have a similar pathogenesis. Nonetheless, many points are still unclear: the primary cause of disseminated intravascular coagulation is unknown, as well as the virulence factors of spirochetes. Some points favor the presence of a toxic factor in leptospires: vascular damage that occurs in the absence of leptospires in damaged areas and the fact that antibiotic therapy is ineffective unless treatment is initiated early in the disease.