Two hemotropic mycoplasmas have been recognized in cats, Mycoplasma haemofelis and “Candidatus Mycoplasma haemominutum.” We recently described a third feline hemoplasma species, designated “Candidatus Mycoplasma turicensis,” in a Swiss cat with hemolytic anemia. This isolate induced anemia after experimental transmission to two specific-pathogen-free cats and analysis of the 16S rRNA gene revealed its close relationship to rodent hemotropic mycoplasmas. The agent was recently shown to be prevalent in Swiss pet cats. We sought to investigate the presence and clinical importance of “Candidatus Mycoplasma turicensis” infection in pet cats outside of Switzerland and to perform the molecular characterization of isolates from different countries. A “Candidatus Mycoplasma turicensis”-specific real-time PCR assay was applied to blood samples from 426 United Kingdom (UK), 147 Australian, and 69 South African pet cats. The 16S rRNA genes of isolates from different countries were sequenced and signalment and laboratory data for the cats were evaluated for associations with “Candidatus Mycoplasma turicensis” infection. Infections were detected in samples from UK, Australian, and South African pet cats. Infection was associated with the male gender, and “Candidatus Mycoplasma haemominutum” and M. haemofelis coinfection. Coinfected cats exhibited significantly lower packed cell volume (PCV) values than uninfected cats. Phylogenetic analyses revealed that some Australian and South African “Candidatus Mycoplasma turicensis” isolates branched away from the remaining isolates. In summary, “Candidatus Mycoplasma turicensis” infection in pet cats exists over a wide geographical area and significantly decreased PCV values are observed in cats coinfected with other feline hemoplasmas.
Recently, a third novel feline hemotropic Mycoplasma sp. (aka hemoplasma), “Candidatus Mycoplasma turicensis,” in a cat with hemolytic anemia has been described. This is the first study to investigate the prevalence, clinical manifestations, and risk factors for all three feline hemoplasma infections in a sample of 713 healthy and ill Swiss cats using newly designed quantitative real-time PCR assays. “Candidatus Mycoplasma haemominutum” infection was detected in 7.0% and 8.7% and Mycoplasma haemofelis was detected in 2.3% and 0.2% of healthy and ill cats, respectively. “Candidatus Mycoplasma turicensis” was only detected in six ill cats (1.1%); three of them were coinfected with “Candidatus Mycoplasma haemominutum.” The 16S rRNA gene sequence of 12 Swiss hemoplasma isolates revealed >98% similarity with previously published sequences. Hemoplasma infection was associated with male gender, outdoor access, and old age but not with retrovirus infection and was more frequent in certain areas of Switzerland. “Candidatus Mycoplasma haemominutum”-infected ill cats were more frequently diagnosed with renal insufficiency and exhibited higher renal blood parameters than uninfected ill cats. No correlation between hemoplasma load and packed cell volume was found, although several hemoplasma-infected cats, some coinfected with feline immunodeficiency virus or feline leukemia virus, showed hemolytic anemia. High M. haemofelis loads (>9 × 105 copies/ml blood) seem to lead to anemia in acutely infected cats but not in recovered long-term carriers. A repeated evaluation of 17 cats documented that the infection was acquired in one case by blood transfusion and that there were important differences among species regarding whether or not antibiotic administration led to the resolution of bacteremia.
In felids, three hemotropic mycoplasma species (hemoplasmas) have been described: Mycoplasma haemofelis, “Candidatus Mycoplasma haemominutum,” and “Candidatus Mycoplasma turicensis.” In particular, M. haemofelis may cause severe, potentially life-threatening hemolytic anemia. No routine serological assays for feline hemoplasma infections are available. Thus, the goal of our project was to identify and characterize an M. haemofelis antigen (DnaK) that subsequently could be applied as a recombinant antigen in a serological assay. The gene sequence of this protein was determined using consensus primers and blood samples from two naturally M. haemofelis-infected Swiss pet cats, an experimentally M. haemofelis-infected specific-pathogen-free cat, and a naturally M. haemofelis-infected Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus). The M. haemofelis DnaK gene sequence showed the highest identity to an analogous protein of a porcine hemoplasma (72%). M. haemofelis DnaK was expressed recombinantly in an Escherichia coli DnaK knockout strain and purified using Ni affinity, size-exclusion, and anion-exchange chromatography. It then was biochemically and functionally characterized and showed characteristics typical for DnaKs (secondary structure profile, thermal denaturation, ATPase activity, and DnaK complementation). Moreover, its immunogenicity was assessed using serum samples from experimentally hemoplasma-infected cats. In Western blotting or enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays, it was recognized by sera from cats infected with M. haemofelis, “Ca. Mycoplasma haemominutum,” and “Ca. Mycoplasma turicensis,” respectively, but not from uninfected cats. This is the first description of a full-length purified recombinant feline hemoplasma antigen that can readily be applied in future pathogenesis studies and may have potential for application in a diagnostic serological test.
Recently, there has been a growing interest in hemotropic mycoplasmal species (also known as the hemoplasmas), the causative agents of infectious anemia in several mammalian species. In felids, two different hemoplasma species have been recognized: Mycoplasma haemofelis (formerly Haemobartonella felis) and “Candidatus Mycoplasma haemominutum.” Recently developed molecular methods have allowed sensitive and specific identification and quantification of these agents in feline blood samples. In applying these methods to an epidemiological study surveying the Swiss pet cat population for hemoplasma infection, we discovered a third novel and unique feline hemoplasma isolate in a blood sample collected from a cat that had exhibited clinical signs of severe hemolytic anemia. This agent was readily transmitted via intravenous inoculation to two specific-pathogen-free cats. One of these cats was immunocompromised by the administration of methylprednisolone acetate prior to inoculation, and this cat developed severe anemia. The other immunocompetent cat showed a moderate decrease in packed cell volume. Additionally, an increase in red blood cell osmotic fragility was observed. Sequencing of the entire 16S rRNA gene of the new hemoplasma isolate and phylogenetic analysis showed that the isolate was most closely related to two rodent hemotropic mycoplasmal species, M. coccoides and M. haemomuris. A quantitative real-time PCR assay specific for this newly discovered agent was developed, which will be a prerequisite for the diagnosis of infections with the new hemoplasma isolate.
The natural transmission routes of the three feline haemotropic mycoplasmas – Mycoplasma haemofelis, ‘Candidatus Mycoplasma haemominutum’, and ‘Candidatus Mycoplasma turicensis’ (CMt) – are largely unknown. Since CMt has been detected in the saliva of infected cats using PCR, we hypothesised that direct transmission via social or aggressive contact may occur. The aim of this study was to evaluate this transmission route. CMt-positive saliva and blood samples were obtained from three prednisolone-treated specific pathogen-free (SPF) cats that were infected intraperitoneally with CMt. Five SPF cats were inoculated with CMt-positive saliva or blood subcutaneously to mimic cat bites, and five cats were inoculated orally with blood or oronasally with saliva to mimic social contact. Blood samples were monitored for CMt infection using quantitative real-time PCR and for seroconversion using a novel western blot assay. Neither oronasal nor subcutaneous inoculation with CMt-positive saliva led to CMt infection in the recipient cats, as determined by PCR, independent of prior prednisolone treatment. However, when blood containing the same CMt dose was given subcutaneously, 4 of the 5 cats became PCR-positive, while none of the 5 cats inoculated orally with up to 500 μL of CMt-positive blood became PCR-positive. Subsequently, the latter cats were successfully subcutaneously infected with blood. All 13 CMt-exposed cats seroconverted. In conclusion, CMt transmission by social contact seems less likely than transmission by aggressive interaction. The latter transmission may occur if the recipient cat is exposed to blood from an infected cat.
haemotropic mycoplasma; transmission; ‘Candidatus Mycoplasma turicensis’; real-time TaqMan PCR; seroconversion
The primary objective of this study was to determine the prevalence of subclinical hemotropic mycoplasma (HM) infections in 2 distinct feline populations: cats from a local shelter and client-owned cats presented for elective procedures (vaccination, ovariohysterectomy, orchiectomy) at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine — Veterinary Teaching Hospital (WCVM-VTH). The second objective of this study was to evaluate the inter-test agreement of 2 independent conventional polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays used for the diagnosis of feline HM-infections.
Fifty-eight clinically healthy shelter cats and 57 clinically healthy client-owned cats were screened for subclinical HM-infection using a conventional PCR assay to detect the 16S rRNA of Mycoplasma haemofelis and “Candidatus M. haemominutum.” All cats in both groups had normal physical examinations. Sex, age (estimated for shelter cats), breed, reproductive status and the presence or absence of ectoparasites were determined. Packed cell volume (PCV), total protein, retroviral status, and blood smear evidence of HM-infection were evaluated. Subclinical HM-infection was identified by PCR assay in 12% (7/58) of the shelter cats and 4% (2/57) of the client-owned cats. M. haemofelis was found in 3/7 HM-infected shelter cats and 2/2 of the HM-infected client-owned cats; “Candidatus M. haemominutum” was found in 4/7 of the HM-infected shelter cats. There was no significant difference in prevalence of HM-infection between the populations (OR 3.8, 95% CI 0.75 to 19, P = 0.16), and no risk factors for infection were identified in either population.
Blood samples from 44 cats with known PCR results (26 cats sampled in the prevalence study and 18 clinical cases) were submitted to a second independent laboratory for HM PCR assay to assess inter-laboratory agreement. There was substantial, but not complete agreement between the 2 independent laboratories for PCR detection of M. haemofelis (κ = 0.66) and “Candidatus M. haemominutum” (κ = 0.70).
Ninety-six feral cats from Prince Edward Island were used to determine the prevalence of selected infectious agents. The prevalence rates were 5.2% for feline immunodeficiency virus, 3.1% for feline leukemia virus, 3.1% for Mycoplasma haemofelis, 8.4% for Candidatus Mycoplasma haemominutum, 2.1% for Bartonella spp. and 29.8% for exposure to Toxoplasma gondii. Oocysts of T. gondii were detected in 1.3% of the fecal samples that were collected. Gender and retroviral status of the cats were significantly correlated with hemoplasma infections. Use of a flea comb showed that 9.6% of the cats had fleas; however, flea infestation was not associated with any of the infectious agents.
Three species of feline haemoplasma are recognised: Mycoplasma haemofelis (Mhf), ‘Candidatus Mycoplasma haemominutum’ (CMhm) and ‘Candidatus Mycoplasma turicensis (CMt). This study compared a reverse line blot hybridization (RLB) assay for simultaneous detection of Mhf, CMhm with three separate quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) assays used for diagnosis of Mhf, CMhm and CMt. The RLB and qPCR assays were applied to DNA extracted from blood samples collected from 154 cats from Trinidad and Tobago.
CMhm and Mhf DNA were detected using both RLB and qPCR. CMt DNA was detected by qPCR only. Comparing RLB and qPCR for the detection of CMhm DNA, 40 (26.3%) and 48 (31.6%) cats, respectively, were positive. The difference was more marked for Mhf, with RLB detecting a total of only 11 (7.2%) positive cats whereas qPCR detected 41 (27.0%) positive cats. Using qPCR as a gold standard, haemoplasma infected cats were more likely to be retrovirus positive (OR = 5.68, P = 0.02) and older (median age 5.5 years), than non-infected cats. In addition, CMhm positive cats were more likely to be male (OR = 3.4, P = 0.04).
Overall the qPCR was more sensitive than RLB. In addition, age (median 5.5 years) and retrovirus positivity were risk factors for infection with the feline haemoplasmas in this study population. Further studies on feline haemoplasma infections in cats are needed to determine the significance of detecting small amounts of haemoplasma DNA, feline retrovirus infection and other associated risk factors on the clinical manifestation of disease.
Feline haemoplasmas; qPCR; Reverse line blot; Feline retrovirus infection
The feline haemotropic mycoplasmas (‘haemoplasmas') are a group of bacteria that can induce haemolytic anaemia in cats. Mycoplasma haemofelis is the most pathogenic of the species; ‘Candidatus Mycoplasma haemominutum’ and ‘Candidatus Mycoplasma turicensis’ are less pathogenic. The natural route of transmission of feline haemoplasma infection has not been confirmed, but fleas are implicated. When disease results, common clinical signs are pallor, lethargy, anorexia, weight loss, depression, dehydration and pyrexia. Treatment with tetracyclines or fluoroquinolones is usually effective at resolving clinical disease, but clearance of infection may not result.
The feline haemoplasmas are found worldwide, although prevalence varies geographically.
Older male non-pedigree cats are believed to be at increased risk of haemoplasma infection, although younger cats are possibly more likely to show clinical disease associated with M haemofelis.
The significance of feline haemoplasma infection is difficult to determine due to the existence of asymptomatic carrier cats and the variable pathogenicity of the haemoplasma species. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) results should be interpreted in the light of the patient's clinical signs and haematological findings, infecting haemoplasma species and level of haemoplasma DNA present in the blood. Trial antibiotic treatment for haemoplasmosis may be warranted in suspected cases while awaiting PCR results.
Aspects of feline haemoplasmosis, particularly risk factors, pathogenesis, diagnostic methods and treatment, have been the focus of much recent research. This article draws on the current evidence base with a view to helping clinicians diagnose and manage cases more effectively.
At least three haemotropic mycoplasmas have been recognized in cats: Mycoplasma haemofelis (Mhf), ‘Candidatus Mycoplasma haemominutum’ (CMhm) and ‘Candidatus M. turicensis’ (CMt). The latter was originally identified in a Swiss pet cat with haemolytic anaemia and shown to be prevalent in domestic cats and wild felids worldwide using molecular methods. So far, there has been no confirmatory morphological evidence of the existence of CMt presumably due to low blood loads during infection while CMhm has only been characterized by light microscopy with discrepant results. This study aimed to provide for the first time electron microscopic characteristics of CMt and CMhm and to compare them to Mhf. Blood samples from cats experimentally infected with CMt, CMhm and Mhf were used to determine copy numbers in blood by real-time PCR and for transmission and scanning electron microscopy. High resolution scanning electron microscopy revealed CMt and CMhm to be discoid-shaped organisms of 0.3 μm in diameter attached to red blood cells (RBCs). In transmission electron microscopy of CMt, an oval organism of about 0.25 μm with several intracellular electron dense structures was identified close to the surface of a RBC. CMhm and CMt exhibited similar morphology to Mhf but had a smaller diameter. This is the first study to provide morphological evidence of CMt thereby confirming its status as a distinct haemoplasma species, and to present electron microscopic features of CMhm.
‘Candidatus Mycoplasma turicensis’; ‘Candidatus Mycoplasma haemominutum’; Haemoplasma; Haemotropic Mycoplasma; Electron microscopy; Real-time PCR
The aim of this study was to use fluorescence in-situ hybridisation (FISH) to search for the tissues and cell types important in survival and persistence of Mycoplasma haemofelis, “Candidatus Mycoplasma haemominutum” or “Candidatus Mycoplasma turicensis” in infected cats. A 16S rDNA probe for each species was applied to formalin-fixed, paraffin wax-embedded tissues sections collected from experimentally infected cats.
Tissues (n = 12) were collected, at necropsy, from ten cats which had been infected with M. haemofelis, and one each with “Ca. M. haemominutum” and “Ca. M. turicensis”. M. haemofelis specific hybridisation was present on red blood cells (RBCs) in all tissues from acutely infected cats, but not the majority of tissues from chronically infected cats. “Ca. M. haemominutum” specific hybridisation was present on scattered RBCs within the spleen and liver. Specific probe hybridisation was not detected in any of the “Ca. M. turicensis” infected tissues.
Haemoplasmas were detected on the surface of RBCs only and not any other cell type. Additionally, FISH was limited by sensitivity and could not detect the lower numbers of organisms present in tissues of cats chronically infected with M. haemofelis. Occasional organisms were detected in cats acutely infected with “Ca. M. haemominutum” but not “Ca. M. turicensis”.
Haemoplasma; Mycoplasma haemofelis; “Candidatus Mycoplasma haemominutum”; “Candidatus Mycoplasma turicensis”; Fluorescence in-situ hybridisation
The aim of this study was to compare blood copy, haematological and glucose values between cats experimentally infected with either Mycoplasma haemofelis (Group HF: 10 cats), ‘Candidatus M. haemominutum’ (Group HM: 3 cats) or ‘Candidatus M. turicensis’ (Group TU: 3 cats). Blood samples were collected regularly up to 85 days post-infection (DPI) for haemoplasma real-time quantitative PCR, haematology, Coombs’ testing and blood glucose measurement. Statistical analysis was performed using a general linear model (ANOVA) appropriate for a repeated measures experiment with significance set as P < 0.05. Cats in Group TU had significantly lower blood copy numbers than cats in Group HF (P < 0.001) and HM (P < 0.001). All Group HF cats developed anaemia (often severe), macrocytosis and evidence of erythrocyte-bound antibodies whereas Groups HM and TU cats did not. Group HF had significantly lower PCVs, haemoglobin concentrations and red blood cell counts, and significantly higher mean cell volumes, than Groups HM and TU. In Group HF, erythrocyte-bound antibodies reactive at 4 °C (both IgM and IgG) appeared between 8 and 22 DPI and persisted for two to four weeks, whereas those reactive at 37 °C (primarily IgG) appeared between 22 and 29 DPI and persisted for one to five weeks. In most cats antibodies appeared after the fall in haemoglobin started. Although Group TU had significantly lower glucose concentrations than Groups HF (P = 0.006) and HM (P = 0.027), mean blood glucose concentrations remained within the reference range in all groups. This study demonstrates that M. haemofelis infection, in contrast to ‘Candidatus M. haemominutum’ and ‘Candidatus M. turicensis’ infection, can result in a severe macrocytic anaemia and the development of cold and warm reactive erythrocyte-bound antibodies.
Haemoplasma; Quantitative real-time PCR; Coombs’ test; Autoagglutination; Glucose
Hemoplasmas are bacteria that infect erythrocytes, attaching to the red blood cell. There is a need for more reports of hemoplasma infection prevalence and molecular characterization among cats in Brazil since there are only few published reports. The present work aimed to detect and molecularly characterize the presence of hemotrophic mycoplasmas in domestic cats with outdoor access from São Luís, Maranhão, Brazil. Twenty cats (10%) were positive for Candidatus M. haemominutum, five (2.5%) for M. haemofelis, and four (2.%) for M. turicensis based on 16S rRNA gene PCRs. Five cats (2.5%) were co-positive for Candidatus M. haemominutum and M. haemofelis. PCR diagnosis was confirmed by sequencing; and phylogenetic analysis was based on 16S rRNA and rnpb genes.
cats; Mycoplasma haemofelis; Candidatus Mycoplasma haemominutum; Candidatus Mycoplasma turicensis
"Candidatus Mycoplasma turicensis" infects felids. The pathogenesis of "Candidatus M. turicensis" chronic infection is poorly understood. The goals of the present study were to (1) induce reactivation of the infection in chronic carrier cats by attempted immunosuppression, (2) identify potential tissue sequestration using real-time TaqMan® PCR and (3) monitor the humoral immune response by DnaK enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Ten specified pathogen-free cats that had ostensibly recovered from experimental "Candidatus M. turicensis" infection were used: five cats (group 1) received high dose methylprednisolone (attempted immunosuppression), while five cats served as untreated controls (group 2). Besides weekly blood samples, tissue samples were collected from bone marrow, kidney, liver and salivary glands at selected time points. The cats in group 1 had significantly lower lymphocyte counts and higher blood glucose levels after methylprednisolone administration than the controls. After methylprednisolone administration one blood and three tissue samples from cats in group 1 tested PCR-positive; before the administration, only one sample was positive. All other samples tested PCR-negative. All cats stayed seropositive; the antibody levels of the cats in group 1 showed a significant transient decrease after methylprednisolone administration. This is the first study to report the presence of "Candidatus M. turicensis" in tissues of chronically infected cats and the persistence of anti-feline hemoplasma antibodies in the absence of detectable bacteremia. Methylprednisolone administration did not lead to a significant reactivation of the infection. Our results enhance the knowledge of "Candidatus M. turicensis" infection pathogenesis and are clinically relevant to the prognosis of hemoplasma-infected cats.
While hemoplasma infections in domestic cats are well studied, almost no information is available on their occurrence in wild felids. The aims of the present study were to investigate wild felid species as possible reservoirs of feline hemoplasmas and the molecular characterization of the hemoplasma isolates. Blood samples from the following 257 wild felids were analyzed: 35 Iberian lynxes from Spain, 36 Eurasian lynxes from Switzerland, 31 European wildcats from France, 45 lions from Tanzania, and 110 Brazilian wild felids, including 12 wild felid species kept in zoos and one free-ranging ocelot. Using real-time PCR, feline hemoplasmas were detected in samples of the following species: Iberian lynx, Eurasian lynx, European wildcat, lion, puma, oncilla, Geoffroy's cat, margay, and ocelot. “Candidatus Mycoplasma haemominutum” was the most common feline hemoplasma in Iberian lynxes, Eurasian lynxes, Serengeti lions, and Brazilian wild felids, whereas “Candidatus Mycoplasma turicensis” was the most prevalent in European wildcats; hemoplasma coinfections were frequently observed. Hemoplasma infection was associated with species and free-ranging status of the felids in all animals and with feline leukemia virus provirus-positive status in European wildcats. Phylogenetic analyses of the 16S rRNA and the partial RNase P gene revealed that most hemoplasma isolates exhibit high sequence identities to domestic cat-derived isolates, although some isolates form different subclusters within the phylogenetic tree. In conclusion, 9 out of 15 wild felid species from three different continents were found to be infected with feline hemoplasmas. The effect of feline hemoplasma infections on wild felid populations needs to be further investigated.
A real-time PCR assay using Taqman probes was developed to detect and quantify Mycoplasma haemofelis and “Candidatus Mycoplasma haemominutum” in feline blood samples. The assay was rapid and sensitive and was successfully used to monitor the in vivo kinetics of cats experimentally infected with each species.
Hemoplasmas is the trivial name given to a group of erythrocyte-parasitizing bacteria of the genus Mycoplasma. Of the feline hemoplasmas, Mycoplasma haemofelis is the most pathogenic, while “Candidatus Mycoplasma haemominutum” and “Candidatus Mycoplasma turicensis” are less pathogenic. Shotgun libraries of fragmented M. haemofelis genomic DNA were constructed, and random colonies were selected for DNA sequencing. In silico-translated amino acid sequences of putative open reading frames were compared to mass spectrometry data from M. haemofelis protein spots identified as being immunogenic by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis and Western blotting. Three of the spots matched the predicted sequences of a heat shock protein 70 (DnaK) homolog, elongation factor Ts, and a fragment of phosphoglycerate kinase found during library screening. A full-length copy of the M. haemofelis dnaK gene was cloned into Escherichia coli and recombinantly expressed. Recombinant M. haemofelis DnaK was purified and then used in Western blotting and an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) to investigate the humoral immune response during acute infection in cats experimentally infected with M. haemofelis, “Ca. Mycoplasma haemominutum,” or “Ca. Mycoplasma turicensis”. The recombinant M. haemofelis DnaK ELISA also was used to screen clinical samples submitted for hemoplasma PCR testing to a commercial laboratory (n = 254). Experimentally infected cats became seropositive following infection, with a greater and earlier antibody response seen in cats inoculated with M. haemofelis than those seen in cats inoculated with “Ca. Mycoplasma haemominutum” or “Ca. Mycoplasma turicensis,” by both Western blotting and ELISA. Of the clinical samples, 31.1% had antibodies detected by the ELISA but only 9.8% were positive by PCR for one or more hemoplasmas.
Hemotropic mycoplasmas (hemoplasmas) are the causative agents of infectious anemia in several mammalian species. Their zoonotic potential has recently been substantiated by the identification of a feline hemoplasma isolate in an immunocompromised human patient. Although species-specific diagnostic molecular methods have been developed, their application as screening tools is limited due to the species diversity of hemoplasmas. The goals of this study were to develop a universal hemoplasma screening assay with broad specificity based on the SYBR green PCR principle, to compare the assay with hemoplasma-specific TaqMan PCR, and to analyze potential tick vectors and human blood samples to address the zoonotic potential. The newly developed PCR assay based on the 16S rRNA gene amplified feline, canine, bovine, porcine, camelid, and murine hemoplasmas, as well as Mycoplasma penetrans and Mycoplasma pneumoniae. The lower detection limit for feline and canine hemoplasmas was 1 to 10 copies/PCR. The assay exhibited 98.2% diagnostic sensitivity and 92.1% diagnostic specificity for feline hemoplasmas. All 1,950 Ixodes ticks were PCR negative, suggesting that Ixodes ticks are not relevant vectors for the above-mentioned hemoplasma species in Switzerland. None of the 414 blood samples derived from anemic or immunocompromised human patients revealed a clear positive result. The SYBR green PCR assay described here is a suitable tool to screen for known and so-far-undiscovered hemoplasma species. Positive results should be confirmed by specific TaqMan PCR or sequencing.
In North America it has been shown that distinct hemotropic mycoplasmas exist in dogs. Blood samples from 460 French dogs were analyzed by PCR to evaluate hemoplasma infection status. Seventy-one dogs (15.4%) were positive; of these, 44 (9.6%) were infected with an organism closely related to “Candidatus Mycoplasma haemoparvum” only, 15 (3.3%) were infected with Mycoplasma haemocanis only, and 12 dogs (2.6%) were dually infected with both organisms.
Hemobartonellosis is caused by Mycoplasma haemofelis, previously known as Haemobartonella felis. Cats infected with this organism typically develop regenerative anemia. The related species Mycoplasma haemominutum may also cause anemia. The purposes of this study were to use polymerase chain reaction technology to determine if both organisms exist in naturally infected cats from Saskatchewan and Alberta, and to determine if disease manifestation corresponds to mycoplasma species. Thirteen of 18 cats with regenerative anemia were infected, 12 with M. haemofelis and 1 with M. haemominutum. Eight of 22 cats with nonregenerative anemia were infected, 4 with M. haemofelis and 4 with M. haemominutum. Two of 20 cats with normal complete blood (cell) counts were infected with M. haemominutum. Although both mycoplasma species were identified, ill cats were more often infected with M. haemofelis.
The pathogenicity of Haemoplasma spp. in cats varies with ‘Candidatus Mycoplasma haemominutum’ (CMhm) causing subclinical infection while Mycoplasma haemofelis (Mhf) often induces haemolytic anaemia. The aims of this study were to characterise the acute phase response (APR) of the cat to experimental infection with Mhf or CMhm, and to determine whether chronic feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) infection influences this response. The acute phase proteins serum amyloid A (SAA), haptoglobin (Hp) and α-1-acid glycoprotein (AGP) concentrations were measured pre-infection and every 7–14 days up to day 100 post-infection (pi) in cats infected with either Mhf or CMhm. Half of each group of cats (6/12) were chronically and subclinically infected with FIV. Marbofloxacin treatment was given on days 16–44 pi to half of the Mhf-infected cats, and on days 49–77 pi to half of the CMhm-infected cats.
FIV-infected animals had significantly lower AGP concentrations, and significantly greater Hp concentrations than non-FIV-infected cats when infected with CMhm and Mhf, respectively. Both CMhm and Mhf infection were associated with significant increases in SAA concentrations, while AGP concentrations were only significantly increased by Mhf infection. Mhf-infected cats had significantly greater SAA concentrations than CMhm-infected animals. Both Mhf and CMhm infections were associated with an APR, with Mhf infection inducing a greater response. Chronic FIV infection appeared to modify the APR, which varied with the infecting Haemoplasma species.
Feline; Acute phase proteins; Mycoplasma haemofelis; ‘Candidatus Mycoplasma haemominutum’; Feline immunodeficiency virus
The haemotropic mycoplasmas Mycoplasma haemofelis and Candidatus Mycoplasma haemominutum cause feline infectious anaemia with infection rates in feline populations reflecting widespread subclinical infection. Clinically significant infections are much rarer but can be life-threatening. Current diagnosis is dependent upon visualising organisms in stained blood smears, PCR or quantitative PCR (qPCR). These procedures are labour-intensive and time-consuming. Furthermore, PCR-based approaches offer limited insight into the disease burden of the infected animal.
We have developed a novel and rapid flow cytometric system that permits diagnosis of haemotropic mycoplasma infections and quantitation of the percentage of erythrocytes that are parasitized. The method exploits the fact that mature mammalian erythrocytes, the host cell for haemoplasmas, are enucleated and thus lack nucleic acid. DRAQ5 is a synthetic anthrocycline dye which rapidly crosses cell membranes and binds to nucleic acids. The presence of exogenous bacterial DNA in mammalian erythrocytes can, therefore, be detected by DRAQ5 uptake and flow cytometric detection of DRAQ5 fluorescence.
Here, we show that this system can detect epi-erythrocytic infection of companion felines by haemotropic mycoplasma. Due to their differences in size, and hence the quantity of DNA, the two major feline hemoplasmas M. haemofelis and Candidatus M. haemominutum can be distinguished according to DRAQ5 fluorescence. We have also shown the usefulness of DRAQ5 uptake in monitoring a cat infected with M. haemofelis sequentially during treatment with doxycycline.
The technique described is the first report of a flow cytometric method for detecting haemotropic mycoplasmas in any species and could be applied to widespread screening of animal populations to assess infection by these epi-erythrocytic parasites.
Hemoplasma; Hemotropic mycoplasma; Flow cytometry; Diagnosis
The aim of the present study was to characterize the antigenic specificity of the humoral immune response made by cats infected with the feline hemoplasma, Mycoplasma haemofelis. A crude M. haemofelis antigen preparation was prepared from red blood cells (RBCs) collected from a cat at the time of a high level of bacteremia. Plasma samples were collected from six cats before and after experimental infection with M. haemofelis, with regular sampling being performed from 15 to 149 or 153 days postinfection (dpi). Preinfection RBC membrane ghosts were prepared from these six cats and used to identify erythrocyte proteins that may have contaminated the M. haemofelis antigen preparation. The M. haemofelis antigen preparation comprised 11 protein bands. The immunodominant bands on Western blotting with infected cat plasma had molecular masses of 78, 68, 60, 48, and 38 kDa. Most cats (n = 5) had plasma antibody that reacted with at least one band (always including the one of 68 kDa) at 15 dpi, and all cats were seroreactive by 29 dpi. The maximum number of antibodies from an individual animal specific for an antigen was identified in plasma collected from 57 to 99 dpi. Contamination of the M. haemofelis antigen preparation with RBC membrane proteins was observed. The contaminating RBC proteins had molecular masses of from 71 to 72 kDa (consistent with band 4.2) and 261 and 238 kDa (consistent with spectrin), and these were recognized by all plasma samples. A range of M. haemofelis antigens is recognized by cats infected experimentally with the organism. These represent possible targets for immunoassays, but care must be taken to prevent false-positive results due to host protein contamination.
Concomitantly with an outbreak of fatal anaplasmosis in a cattle herd in Switzerland in 2002, we detected two bovine hemoplasma species in diseased animals: Mycoplasma wenyonii (formerly Eperythrozoon wenyonii) and a second, novel bovine hemoplasma species later designated “Candidatus Mycoplasma haemobos” (synonym, “Candidatus Mycoplasma haemobovis”). The second species was characterized by a shorter 16S rRNA gene. The aims of the present study were to provide a detailed molecular characterization of this species, to develop specific quantitative real-time PCR assays for the two bovine hemoplasma species, and to apply these assays in order to evaluate the prevalence and clinical significance of the hemoplasmas. Sequencing of the near-complete 16S rRNA gene of the second hemoplasma revealed that it was 94% identical to that of Mycoplasma haemofelis, an anemia-inducing feline hemoplasma species, but less than 85% identical to that of the bovine hemoplasma M. wenyonii. Using the newly developed assays, a total of 159 animals from the anaplasmosis outbreak were reexamined. In addition, we tested 57 clinically ill and 61 healthy Swiss cattle, as well as 47 calves. Both hemoplasmas were highly prevalent in adult cattle but occurred rarely in calves. Animals from the herd with the fatal anemia outbreak were more frequently infected with M. wenyonii and exhibited higher M. wenyonii blood loads than animals with unrelated diseases and healthy animals. Coinfections may increase the pathogenicity and clinical significance of bovine hemoplasmosis.
“Candidatus Mycoplasma turicensis” (CMt) is a hemoplasma species of felids. Recent evidence has shown that cats that overcome bacteremia may be protected from reinfection. The purposes of this study were to (1) re-inoculate ostensibly recovered cats, (2) evaluate the immune response and (3) assess CMt tissue loads. Fifteen specified pathogen-free cats were subcutaneously inoculated with CMt: 10 cats (group A) had previously undergone bacteremia and recovered, and 5 naïve cats (group B) served as controls. CMt infections were monitored by real-time PCR using blood and tissue, and the humoral immune response was assessed using DnaK ELISA. Cytokine mRNA expression levels were measured by real-time PCR, and lymphocyte subsets were detected by flow cytometry. The cats in group A were protected from reinfection (no detectable bacteremia) and showed a transient decrease in antibodies. Eosinophilia was noted in cats from group A. The cats from group B became PCR-positive and seroconverted. All of the tissues analyzed from the cats in group B but none of the tissues analyzed from the cats in group A were CMt PCR-positive. Significant changes were observed in the expression of tumor necrosis factor-α, interferon-γ, interleukin-4 and the Th2/Th1 ratio in both groups. The cats from group A occasionally showed higher numbers of CD4+, CD8+, CD4+CD25+ and CD5+MHCII+ T lymphocytes than the control cats. In conclusion, this study describes, for the first time, the occurrence of immunological protection within the same hemoplasma species. Furthermore, the immune response during CMt infections appeared to be skewed toward the Th2 type.