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1.  Generation of Mammalian Host-adapted Leptospira interrogans by Cultivation in Peritoneal Dialysis Membrane Chamber Implantation in Rats 
Bio-protocol  2015;5(14):e1536.
Leptospira interrogans can infect a myriad of mammalian hosts, including humans (Bharti et al., 2003; Ko et al., 2009). Following acquisition by a suitable host, leptospires disseminate via the bloodstream to multiple tissues, including the kidneys, where they adhere to and colonize the proximal convoluted renal tubules (Athanazio et al., 2008). Infected hosts shed large number of spirochetes in their urine and the leptospires can survive in different environmental conditions before transmission to another host. Differential gene expression by Leptospira spp. permits adaption to these new conditions. Here we describe a protocol for the cultivation of Leptospira interrogans within Dialysis Membrane Chambers (DMCs) implanted into the peritoneal cavities of Sprague-Dawley rats (Caimano et al., 2014). This technique was originally developed to study mammalian adaption by the Lyme disease spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi (Akins et al., 1998; Caimano, 2005). The small pore size (8,000 MWCO) of the dialysis membrane tubing used for this procedure permits access to host nutrients but excludes host antibodies and immune effector cells. Given the physiological and environmental similarities between DMCs and the proximal convoluted renal tubule, we reasoned that the DMC model would be suitable for studying in vivo gene expression by L. interrogans. In a 20 to 30 min procedure, DMCs containing virulent leptospires are surgically-implanted into the rat peritoneal cavity. Nine to 11 days post-implantation, DMCs are explanted and organisms recovered. Typically, a single DMC yields ~109 mammalian host-adapted leptospires (Caimano et al., 2014). In addition to providing a facile system for studying the transcriptional and physiologic changes pathogenic L. interrogans undergo within the mammal, the DMC model also provides a rationale basis for selecting new targets for mutagenesis and the identification of novel virulence determinants.
Caution: Leptospira interrogans is a BSL-2 level pathogen and known to be excreted in the urine of infected animals. Animals should be handled and disposed of using recommended Animal Biosafety Levels (ABSL) for infectious agents using vertebrate animal guidelines.
Note: All protocols using live animals must conform to governmental regulations regarding the care and use of laboratory animals. The success of this protocol is dependent on the proper use of aseptic techniques during all stages of both dialysis membrane chamber preparation and animal surgery.
PMCID: PMC4529132  PMID: 26258158
6.  A Model System for Studying the Transcriptomic and Physiological Changes Associated with Mammalian Host-Adaptation by Leptospira interrogans Serovar Copenhageni 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(3):e1004004.
Leptospirosis, an emerging zoonotic disease with worldwide distribution, is caused by spirochetes belonging to the genus Leptospira. More than 500,000 cases of severe leptospirosis are reported annually, with >10% of these being fatal. Leptospires can survive for weeks in suitably moist conditions before encountering a new host. Reservoir hosts, typically rodents, exhibit little to no signs of disease but shed large numbers of organisms in their urine. Transmission occurs when mucosal surfaces or abraded skin come into contact with infected urine or urine-contaminated water or soil. In humans, leptospires can cause a variety of clinical manifestations, ranging from asymptomatic or mild fever to severe icteric (Weil's) disease and pulmonary haemorrhage. Currently, little is known about how Leptospira persist within a reservoir host. Prior in vitro studies have suggested that leptospires alter their transcriptomic and proteomic profiles in response to environmental signals encountered during mammalian infection. However, no study has examined gene expression by leptospires within a mammalian host-adapted state. To obtain a more faithful representation of how leptospires respond to host-derived signals, we used RNA-Seq to compare the transcriptome of L. interrogans cultivated within dialysis membrane chambers (DMCs) implanted into the peritoneal cavities of rats with that of organisms grown in vitro. In addition to determining the relative expression levels of “core” housekeeping genes under both growth conditions, we identified 166 genes that are differentially-expressed by L. interrogans in vivo. Our analyses highlight physiological aspects of host adaptation by leptospires relating to heme uptake and utilization. We also identified 11 novel non-coding transcripts that are candidate small regulatory RNAs. The DMC model provides a facile system for studying the transcriptional and antigenic changes associated with mammalian host-adaption, selection of targets for mutagenesis, and the identification of previously unrecognized virulence determinants.
Author Summary
Leptospirosis, a global disease caused by the unusual bacterium Leptospira, is transmitted from animals to humans. Pathogenic species of Leptospira are excreted in urine from infected animals and can continue to survive in suitable environments before coming into contact with a new reservoir or accidental host. Leptospires have an inherent ability to survive a wide range of conditions encountered in nature during transmission and within mammals. However, we know very little about the regulatory pathways and gene products that promote mammalian host adaptation and enable leptospires to establish infection. In this study, we used a novel system whereby leptospires are cultivated in dialysis membrane chambers implanted into the peritoneal cavities of rats to compare the gene expression profiles of mammalian host-adapted and in vitro-cultivated organisms. In addition to providing a facile system for studying the transcriptional and physiologic changes leptospires undergo during mammalian infection, our data provide a rational basis for selecting new targets for mutagenesis.
PMCID: PMC3953431  PMID: 24626166
7.  Protection against Lethal Leptospirosis after Vaccination with LipL32 Coupled or Coadministered with the B Subunit of Escherichia coli Heat-Labile Enterotoxin 
Leptospirosis, a worldwide zoonosis, lacks an effective, safe, and cross-protective vaccine. LipL32, the most abundant, immunogenic, and conserved surface lipoprotein present in all pathogenic species of Leptospira, is a promising antigen candidate for a recombinant vaccine. However, several studies have reported a lack of protection when this protein is used as a subunit vaccine. In an attempt to enhance the immune response, we used LipL32 coupled to or coadministered with the B subunit of the Escherichia coli heat-labile enterotoxin (LTB) in a hamster model of leptospirosis. After homologous challenge with 5× the 50% lethal dose (LD50) of Leptospira interrogans, animals vaccinated with LipL32 coadministered with LTB and LTB::LipL32 had significantly higher survival rates (P < 0.05) than animals from the control group. This is the first report of a protective immune response afforded by a subunit vaccine using LipL32 and represents an important contribution toward the development of improved leptospirosis vaccines.
PMCID: PMC3346321  PMID: 22379066
8.  Highly Virulent Leptospira borgpetersenii Strain Characterized in the Hamster Model 
A recent study by our group reported the isolation and partial serological and molecular characterization of four Leptospira borgpetersenii serogroup Ballum strains. Here, we reproduced experimental leptospirosis in golden Syrian hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus) and carried out standardization of lethal dose 50% (LD50) of one of these strains (4E). Clinical disease features and histopathologic analyses of tissue lesions were also observed. As results, strain 4E induced lethality in the hamster model with inocula lower than 10 leptospires, and histopathological examination of animals showed typical lesions found in severe leptospirosis. Gross pathological findings were peculiar; animals that died early had more chance of presenting severe jaundice and less chance of presenting pulmonary hemorrhages (P < 0.01). L. borgpetersenii serogroup Ballum has had a considerable growth in human leptospirosis cases in recent years. This strain has now been thoroughly characterized and can be used in more studies, especially evaluations of vaccine candidates.
PMCID: PMC3144824  PMID: 21813846
9.  Preliminary Characterization of Mus musculus–Derived Pathogenic Strains of Leptospira borgpetersenii Serogroup Ballum in a Hamster Model 
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.
PMCID: PMC2911180  PMID: 20682877

Results 1-9 (9)