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1.  Characterization of recombinant human and bovine thyroid-stimulating hormone preparations by mass spectrometry and determination of their endotoxin content 
Background
The TSH stimulation test to confirm canine hypothyroidism is commonly performed using a recombinant human TSH (rhTSH), as up to date, canine TSH is not yet commercially available. Limiting factors for the use of rhTSH are its high costs and occasional difficulties in product availability. Less expensive bovine TSH preparations (bTSH) purified from bovine pituitary glands are readily commercially available. The aim of this study was to evaluate two different bTSH products as alternative to rhTSH using mass spectrometry.
Results
More than 50 proteins, including other pituitary hormones, bovine albumin, hemoglobin, and tissue proteins were identified in the bTSH preparations. In contrast, rhTSH proved to be a highly pure product. Significantly higher endotoxin levels could be detected in all bTSH products compared to the rhTSH.
Conclusions
Both bTSH products are crude mixtures and therefore not an acceptable alternative to rhTSH. Their use should be discouraged to prevent unintended side effects.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-9-141
PMCID: PMC3717043  PMID: 23870652
Bovine TSH; Recombinant human TSH; Mass spectrometry; Endotoxin
2.  In vivo transmission studies of ‘Candidatus Mycoplasma turicensis’ in the domestic cat 
Veterinary Research  2009;40(5):45.
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.
doi:10.1051/vetres/2009028
PMCID: PMC2701178  PMID: 19505421
haemotropic mycoplasma; transmission; ‘Candidatus Mycoplasma turicensis’; real-time TaqMan PCR; seroconversion
3.  Development and Application of a Universal Hemoplasma Screening Assay Based on the SYBR Green PCR Principle▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2009;47(12):4049-4054.
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.
doi:10.1128/JCM.01478-09
PMCID: PMC2786680  PMID: 19828748
4.  Quantitative TaqMan® real-time PCR assays for gene expression normalisation in feline tissues 
BMC Molecular Biology  2009;10:106.
Background
Gene expression analysis is an important tool in contemporary research, with real-time PCR as the method of choice for quantifying transcription levels. Co-analysis of suitable reference genes is crucial for accurate expression normalisation. Reference gene expression may vary, e.g., among species or tissues; thus, candidate genes must be tested prior to use in expression studies. The domestic cat is an important study subject in both medical research and veterinary medicine. The aim of the present study was to develop TaqMan® real-time PCR assays for eight potential reference genes and to test their applicability for feline samples, including blood, lymphoid, endocrine, and gastrointestinal tissues from healthy cats, and neoplastic tissues from FeLV-infected cats.
Results
RNA extraction from tissues was optimised for minimal genomic DNA (gDNA) contamination without use of a DNase treatment. Real-time PCR assays were established and optimised for v-abl Abelson murine leukaemia viral oncogene homolog (ABL), β-actin (ACTB), β-2-microglobulin (B2M), β-glucuronidase (GUSB), hydroxymethyl-bilane synthase (HMBS), hypoxanthine phosphoribosyltransferase (HPRT), ribosomal protein S7 (RPS7), and tryptophan 5-monooxygenase activation protein, zeta polypeptide (YWHAZ). The presence of pseudogenes was confirmed for four of the eight investigated genes (ACTB, HPRT, RPS7, and YWHAZ). The assays were tested together with previously developed TaqMan® assays for feline glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) and the universal 18S rRNA gene. Significant differences were found among the expression levels of the ten candidate reference genes, with a ~106-fold expression difference between the most abundant (18S rRNA) and the least abundant genes (ABL, GUSB, and HMBS). The expression stability determined by the geNorm and NormFinder programs differed significantly. Using the ANOVA-based NormFinder program, RPS7 was the most stable gene in the tissues studied, followed by ACTB and ABL; B2M, HPRT, and the 18S rRNA genes were the least stable ones.
Conclusion
The reference gene expression stability varied considerably among the feline tissues investigated. No tested gene was optimal for normalisation in all tissues. For the majority of the tissues, two to three reference genes were necessary for accurate normalisation. The present study yields essential information on the correct choice of feline reference genes depending on the tissues analysed.
doi:10.1186/1471-2199-10-106
PMCID: PMC2803789  PMID: 20003366
5.  Molecular Investigations of Rickettsia helvetica Infection in Dogs, Foxes, Humans, and Ixodes Ticks▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2009;75(10):3230-3237.
Rickettsia helvetica, a tick-borne member of the spotted-fever-group rickettsiae, is a suspected pathogen in humans; however, its role in animals is unknown. The aims of this study were to establish a R. helvetica-specific real-time TaqMan PCR assay and apply it to the analysis of tick vectors (to determine potential exposure risk) and blood samples from Canidae and humans (to determine prevalence of infection). The newly designed 23S rRNA gene assay for R. helvetica was more sensitive than a published citrate synthase gene (gltA) assay for several rickettsiae. Blood samples from 884 dogs, 58 foxes, and 214 human patients and 2,073 ticks (Ixodes spp.) collected from either vegetation or animals were analyzed. Although the maximal likelihood estimate of prevalence was 12% in unfed ticks and 36% in ticks collected from animals, none of the 1,156 blood samples tested PCR positive. Ticks from cats were more frequently PCR positive than ticks from dogs. Sequencing of the 23S rRNA and/or the gltA gene of 17 tick pools confirmed the presence of R. helvetica. Additionally, Rickettsia monacensis, which has not been previously found in Switzerland, was identified. In conclusion, R. helvetica was frequently detected in the tick population but not in blood samples. Nevertheless, due to the broad host range of Ixodes ticks and the high rate of infestation with this agent (i.e., R. helvetica was 13 times more frequent in unfed ticks than the tick-borne encephalitis virus), many mammals may be exposed to R. helvetica. The PCR assay described here represents an important tool for studying this topic.
doi:10.1128/AEM.00220-09
PMCID: PMC2681666  PMID: 19329665
6.  Follow-up of Bernese Mountain dogs and other dogs with serologically diagnosed Borrelia burgdorferi infection: What happens to seropositive animals? 
Background
Data on the long-term outcome of B. burgdorferi infections in adult dogs are sparse. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether Bernese Mountain dogs with serological evidence of natural B. burgdorferi infection more often develop signs such as lameness, azotemia or proteinuria during a follow-up period of 2.5 to 3.0 years. Seropositive Bernese Mountain dogs were compared to seronegative Bernese Mountain dogs and to seropositive and seronegative control dogs of other breeds.
Dogs included in a previous study on the prevalence of antibodies against B. burgdorferi in Bernese Mountain dogs were re-evaluated. Antibodies against B. burgdorferi were determined using an ELISA with a whole-cell sonicate as antigen and results were confirmed using a Western blot assay.
Results
Fifty-three Bernese Mountain dogs and 30 control dogs were re-evaluated. Re-evaluation was performed between 2.5 and 3.0 years (median 2.7 years) after the first assessment.
The age of the dogs at the second evaluation ranged from 3 to 11 years (median 6 years). There were no significant differences with regard to poor general condition or lameness between the first and the second evaluation.
At the first evaluation 22 (42%) of the Bernese Mountain dogs and 11 (37%) of the control dogs were considered positive for antibodies against B. burgdorferi. At the second evaluation 25 (47%) of the Bernese Mountain dogs and 12 (40%) of the control dogs were considered positive; 69% of the dogs showed the same serological result at both examinations and 31% were seroconverted or seroreverted. During the first examination, azotemia was diagnosed in 6 Bernese Mountain dogs and during the second examination in 11 Bernese Mountain dogs. No control dogs had azotemia in this study. In seropositive dogs there was no increase in lameness or signs of renal disease over time.
Conclusion
It may be concluded that antibodies against B. burgdorferi determined by whole cell ELISA and confirmed by Western blot were neither associated with the development of lameness nor with signs of renal disease like azotemia or proteinuria in dogs observed over a period of 2.5 to 3.0 years.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-5-18
PMCID: PMC2697146  PMID: 19426490
7.  Real-Time PCR Investigation of Potential Vectors, Reservoirs, and Shedding Patterns of Feline Hemotropic Mycoplasmas▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2007;73(12):3798-3802.
Three hemotropic mycoplasmas have been identified in pet cats: Mycoplasma haemofelis, “Candidatus Mycoplasma haemominutum,” and “Candidatus Mycoplasma turicensis.” The way in which these agents are transmitted is largely unknown. Thus, this study aimed to investigate fleas, ticks, and rodents as well as saliva and feces from infected cats for the presence of hemotropic mycoplasmas, to gain insight into potential transmission routes for these agents. DNA was extracted from arthropods and from rodent blood or tissue samples from Switzerland and from salivary and fecal swabs from two experimentally infected and six naturally infected cats. All samples were analyzed with real-time PCR, and some positive samples were confirmed by sequencing. Feline hemotropic mycoplasmas were detected in cat fleas and in a few Ixodes sp. and Rhipicephalus sp. ticks collected from animals but not in ticks collected from vegetation or from rodent samples, although the latter were frequently Mycoplasma coccoides PCR positive. When shedding patterns of feline hemotropic mycoplasmas were investigated, “Ca. Mycoplasma turicensis” DNA was detected in saliva and feces at the early but not at the late phase of infection. M. haemofelis and “Ca. Mycoplasma haemominutum” DNA was not amplified from saliva and feces of naturally infected cats, despite high hemotropic mycoplasma blood loads. Our results suggest that besides an ostensibly indirect transmission by fleas, direct transmission through saliva and feces at the early phase of infection could play a role in the epizootiology of feline hemotropic mycoplasmas. Neither the investigated tick nor the rodent population seems to represent a major reservoir for feline hemotropic mycoplasmas in Switzerland.
doi:10.1128/AEM.02977-06
PMCID: PMC1932730  PMID: 17468284
8.  Increased prevalence of Borrelia burgdorferi infections in Bernese Mountain Dogs: a possible breed predisposition 
Background
Glomerulonephritis in dogs has been associated with B. burgdorferi infections. In Bernese Mountain Dogs with glomerulonephritis antibodies against B. burgdorferi have been found in most dogs, raising the question if the breed is predisposed to infections with B. burgdorferi. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of antibodies against B. burgdorferi sensu lato in a well defined population of Bernese Mountain Dogs and to compare this prevalence with data from dogs of other breeds.
Results
160 Bernese Mountain Dogs and 62 control dogs (large breed dogs with long hair) were included. All dogs were considered healthy according to a questionnaire filled out by the owner, complete blood count, chemistry panel, urinalysis and urine culture. Bernese Mountain Dogs and control dogs were kept in similar environments. Seroprevalence of B. burgdorferi was assessed by ELISA and Western blot and was 58% in Bernese Mountain Dogs compared to 15% in control dogs. This difference was significant. Neither antibodies against leptospires nor vaccination or hair coat color influenced the results.
Conclusion
The cause of the considerably higher prevalence of antibodies against B. burgdorferi in Bernese Mountain Dogs and it's consequences are not known. A breed predisposition can be suspected.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-3-15
PMCID: PMC1959192  PMID: 17626630
9.  Phylogenetic Analysis of “Candidatus Mycoplasma turicensis” Isolates from Pet Cats in the United Kingdom, Australia, and South Africa, with Analysis of Risk Factors for Infection▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2006;44(12):4430-4435.
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.
doi:10.1128/JCM.00987-06
PMCID: PMC1698426  PMID: 17035497
10.  Prevalence, Risk Factor Analysis, and Follow-Up of Infections Caused by Three Feline Hemoplasma Species in Cats in Switzerland 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2006;44(3):961-969.
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.
doi:10.1128/JCM.44.3.961-969.2006
PMCID: PMC1393118  PMID: 16517884

Results 1-10 (10)