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1.  Infection, Disease, and Transmission Dynamics in Calves after Experimental and Natural Challenge with a Bovine Chlamydia psittaci Isolate 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e64066.
Chlamydia (C.) psittaci is the causative agent of psittacosis, a zoonotic disease in birds and man. In addition, C. psittaci has been repeatedly found in domestic animals and is, at least in calves, also able to induce respiratory disease. Knowledge about transmission routes in cattle herds is still deficient, and nothing is known about differences in host response after either experimental or natural exposure to C. psittaci. Therefore, our recently developed respiratory infection model was exploited to evaluate (i) the presence of the pathogen in blood, excretions and air, (ii) the possibility of transmission and (iii) clinical symptoms, acute phase and immune response until 5 weeks after exposure. In this prospective study, intrabronchial inoculation of 108 inclusion-forming units of C. psittaci (n = 21 calves) led to reproducible acute respiratory illness (of approximately one week), accompanied by a systemic inflammatory reaction with an innate immune response dominated by neutrophils. Excretion and/or exhalation of the pathogen was sufficient to transmit the infection to naïve sentinel calves (n = 3) co-housed with the infected animals. Sentinel calves developed mild to subclinical infections only. Notably, excretion of the pathogen, predominantly via feces, occurred more frequently in animals naturally exposed to C. psittaci (i.e. sentinels) as compared to experimentally-inoculated calves. The humoral immune response was generally weak, and did not emerge regularly following experimental infection; however, it was largely absent after naturally acquired infection.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0064066
PMCID: PMC3653844  PMID: 23691148
2.  A Novel Rapid DNA Microarray Assay Enables Identification of 37 Mycoplasma Species and Highlights Multiple Mycoplasma Infections 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e33237.
Mycoplasmas comprise a conglomerate of pathogens and commensals occurring in humans and animals. The genus Mycoplasma alone contains more than 120 species at present, and new members are continuously being discovered. Therefore, it seems promising to use a single highly parallel detection assay rather than develop separate tests for each individual species. In this study, we have designed a DNA microarray carrying 70 oligonucleotide probes derived from the 23S rRNA gene and 86 probes from the tuf gene target regions. Following a PCR amplification and biotinylation step, hybridization on the array was shown to specifically identify 31 Mycoplasma spp., as well as 3 Acholeplasma spp. and 3 Ureaplasma spp. Members of the Mycoplasma mycoides cluster can be recognized at subgroup level. This procedure enables parallel detection of Mollicutes spp. occurring in humans, animals or cell culture, from mono- and multiple infections, in a single run. The main advantages of the microarray assay include ease of operation, rapidity, high information content, and affordability. The new test's analytical sensitivity is equivalent to that of real-time PCR and allows examination of field samples without the need for culture. When 60 field samples from ruminants and birds previously analyzed by denaturing-gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) were tested by the microarray assay both tests identified the same agent in 98.3% of the cases. Notably, microarray testing revealed an unexpectedly high proportion (35%) of multiple mycoplasma infections, i.e., substantially more than DGGE (15%). Two of the samples were found to contain four different Mycoplasma spp. This phenomenon deserves more attention, particularly its implications for epidemiology and treatment.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0033237
PMCID: PMC3315567  PMID: 22479374
3.  A Bovine Model of Respiratory Chlamydia psittaci Infection: Challenge Dose Titration 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e30125.
This study aimed to establish and evaluate a bovine respiratory model of experimentally induced acute C. psittaci infection. Calves are natural hosts and pathogenesis may resemble the situation in humans. Intrabronchial inoculation of C. psittaci strain DC15 was performed in calves aged 2–3 months via bronchoscope at four different challenge doses from 106 to 109 inclusion-forming units (ifu) per animal. Control groups received either UV-inactivated C. psittaci or cell culture medium. While 106 ifu/calf resulted in a mild respiratory infection only, the doses of 107 and 108 induced fever, tachypnea, dry cough, and tachycardia that became apparent 2–3 days post inoculation (dpi) and lasted for about one week. In calves exposed to 109 ifu C. psittaci, the respiratory disease was accompanied by severe systemic illness (apathy, tremor, markedly reduced appetite). At the time point of most pronounced clinical signs (3 dpi) the extent of lung lesions was below 10% of pulmonary tissue in calves inoculated with 106 and 107 ifu, about 15% in calves inoculated with 108 and more than 30% in calves inoculated with 109 ifu C. psittaci. Beside clinical signs and pathologic lesions, the bacterial load of lung tissue and markers of pulmonary inflammation (i.e., cell counts, concentration of proteins and eicosanoids in broncho-alveolar lavage fluid) were positively associated with ifu of viable C. psittaci. While any effect of endotoxin has been ruled out, all effects could be attributed to infection by the replicating bacteria. In conclusion, the calf represents a suitable model of respiratory chlamydial infection. Dose titration revealed that both clinically latent and clinically manifest infection can be reproduced experimentally by either 106 or 108 ifu/calf of C. psittaci DC15 while doses above 108 ifu C. psittaci cannot be recommended for further studies for ethical reasons. This defined model of different clinical expressions of chlamydial infection allows studying host-pathogen interactions.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0030125
PMCID: PMC3267716  PMID: 22299031
4.  Serological testing of cattle experimentally infected with Mycoplasma mycoides subsp. mycoides Small Colony using four different tests reveals a variety of seroconversion patterns 
Background
To study the specific antibody response to infection with Mycoplasma mycoides subsp. mycoides Small Colony (MmmSC), the agent of Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia (CBPP), we examined three panels of sera collected during three experimental infection trials in African cattle. The methods used included an in-house complement fixation test (CFT), a commercially available CFT, a competitive antibody ELISA (cELISA) and the immunoblotting test (IBT). In addition, lung tissue samples were examined by culture.
Results
A total of 89% (51/59) of all experimentally infected animals tested positive on at least one of the serological tests throughout the trial. The specific antibody titres to the MmmSC infection became positive first by CFT (6 to 9 days post infection [dpi]), followed by IBT (9 to 13 dpi) and cELISA (13 to 16 dpi). Individual animals were found to display remarkably distinct seroconversion patterns, which allowed their classification into i) early high responders, ii) late high responders, and iii) low responders. In accordance with other studies, none of the present serological tests was capable of detecting all CBPP infected animals.
Conclusion
Comparison of the assays' performance in terms of sensitivity and specificity raises serious questions as to their reliability for identification of infected individuals in the field. In view of these limitations, a combination of CFT and cELISA can markedly improve CBPP diagnosis at single-animal level.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-7-72
PMCID: PMC3377920  PMID: 22098816
5.  Genotyping of Chlamydophila psittaci using a new DNA microarray assay based on sequence analysis of ompA genes 
BMC Microbiology  2008;8:63.
Background
The currently used genotyping system for the avian zoonotic pathogen Chlamydophila (C.) psittaci has evolved from serology and is based on ompA sequence variations. It includes seven avian and two non-avian genotypes. Restriction enzyme cleavage of the amplified ompA gene and, less frequently, ompA sequencing are being used for examination, but, beside methodological limitations, an increasing number of recently tested strains could not be assigned to any established genotype.
Results
Comprehensive analysis of all available ompA gene sequences has revealed a remarkable genetic diversity within the species C. psittaci, which is only partially covered by the present genotyping scheme. We suggest adjustments and extensions to the present scheme, which include the introduction of subgroups to the more heterogeneous genotypes A, E/B and D, as well as six provisional genotypes representing so far untypable strains. The findings of sequence analysis have been incorporated in the design of a new DNA microarray. The ArrayTube™ microarray-based ompA genotyping assay has been shown to discriminate among established genotypes and identify so far untyped strains. Its high specificity, which allows detection of single-nucleotide polymorphisms, is due to the parallel approach consisting in the use of 35 hybridization probes derived from variable domains 2 and 4 of the ompA gene.
Conclusion
The traditional genotyping system does not adequately reflect the extent of intra-species heterogeneity in ompA sequences of C. psittaci. The newly developed DNA microarray-based assay represents a promising diagnostic tool for tracing epidemiological chains, exploring the dissemination of genotypes and identifying non-typical representatives of C. psittaci.
doi:10.1186/1471-2180-8-63
PMCID: PMC2362127  PMID: 18419800
6.  Transcriptional Response Patterns of Chlamydophila psittaci in Different In Vitro Models of Persistent Infection†  
Infection and Immunity  2006;74(8):4801-4808.
The obligatory intracellular bacterium Chlamydophila psittaci is the causative agent of psittacosis in birds and humans. The capability of this zoonotic pathogen to develop a persistent phase is likely to play a role in chronicity of infections, as well as in failure of antibiotic therapy and immunoprophylaxis. To elucidate three different in vitro models for transition of C. psittaci to persistence (iron depletion, penicillin G treatment, and gamma interferon [IFN-γ] exposure), a set of 27 genes was examined by mRNA expression analysis using quantitative real-time PCR. While the phenotypical characteristics were the same as in other chlamydiae, i.e., aberrant morphology of reticulate bodies, loss of cultivability, and rescue of infectivity upon removal of inducers, the transcriptional response of C. psittaci to persistence-inducing factors included several new and distinctive features. Consistent downregulation of membrane proteins, chlamydial sigma factors, cell division protein, and reticulate body-elementary body differentiation proteins from 24 h postinfection onward proved to be a general feature of C. psittaci persistence. However, other genes displayed considerable variations in response patterns from one model to another, which suggests that there is no persistence model per se. In contrast to results for Chlamydia trachomatis, late shutdown of essential genes in C. psittaci was more comprehensive with IFN-γ-induced persistence, which is probably due to the absence of a functional tryptophan synthesis operon.
doi:10.1128/IAI.01487-05
PMCID: PMC1539575  PMID: 16861668

Results 1-6 (6)