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1.  Detection and Quantification of Leptospira interrogans in Hamster and Rat Kidney Samples: Immunofluorescent Imprints versus Real-time PCR 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e32712.
A major limitation in the clinical management and experimental research of leptospirosis is the poor performance of the available methods for the direct detection of leptospires. In this study, we compared real-time PCR (qPCR), targeting the lipL32 gene, with the immunofluorescent imprint method (IM) for the detection and quantification of leptospires in kidney samples from the rat and hamster experimental models of leptospirosis. Using a virulent strain of Leptospira interrogans serovar Copenhageni, a chronic infection was established in the rat model, which were euthanized 28 days post-infection, while the hamster model simulated an acute infection and the hamsters were euthanized eight days after inoculation. Leptospires in the kidney samples were detected using culture isolation, qPCR and the IM, and quantified using qPCR and the IM. In both the acute and chronic infection models, the correlation between quantification by qPCR and the IM was found to be positive and statistically significant (P<0.05). Therefore, this study demonstrates that the IM is a viable alternative for not only the detection but also the quantification of leptospires, particularly when the use of qPCR is not feasible.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0032712
PMCID: PMC3290571  PMID: 22393440
2.  Attenuated Nephritis in Inducible Nitric Oxide Synthase Knockout C57BL/6 Mice and Pulmonary Hemorrhage in CB17 SCID and Recombination Activating Gene 1 Knockout C57BL/6 Mice Infected with Leptospira interrogans ▿ 
Infection and Immunity  2011;79(7):2936-2940.
The aims of this study were to investigate the frequency of pulmonary hemorrhage (PH) in mice unable to produce functional B and T lymphocytes and to explore the effect of an inducible nitric oxide synthase gene (Inos) knockout (KO) on the frequency/severity of interstitial nephritis in vivo. We studied the outcome of infection by the virulent Leptospira interrogans serovar Copenhageni strain Cop. The animals used were Inos KO mice, recombination activating gene 1 (Rag1) KO mice, CB17 severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) mice, and the respective wild-type (WT) C57BL/6 and BALB/c controls. The Inos KO and WT mice survived with no clinical symptoms of leptospirosis. The frequency and severity of nephritis was significantly lower in the Inos KO mice. All of the Rag1 KO and SCID animals died of acute leptospirosis, whereas all of the WT mice survived. PH was observed in 57 and 94% of Rag1 KO mice and in 83 and 100% of SCID mice, using inoculum doses of 107 and 106 leptospires, respectively. There was no evidence of PH in the WT controls. In conclusion, the loss of the Inos gene had a negligible effect on the outcome of leptospiral infection, although we observed a reduced susceptibility for interstitial nephritis in this group. Of note, the absence of functional B- and T-cell lymphocytes did not preclude the occurrence of PH. These data provide evidence that PH in leptospirosis may not be related only to autoimmune mechanisms.
doi:10.1128/IAI.05099-11
PMCID: PMC3191955  PMID: 21576342
3.  CHARACTERIZATION OF VIRULENCE OF Leptospira ISOLATES IN A HAMSTER MODEL 
Vaccine  2008;26(31):3892-3896.
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.
doi:10.1016/j.vaccine.2008.04.085
PMCID: PMC2519131  PMID: 18547690
Leptospira; leptospirosis; lethal dose; isolation; animal model; virulence
4.  Targeted Mutagenesis in Pathogenic Leptospira Species: Disruption of the LigB Gene Does Not Affect Virulence in Animal Models of Leptospirosis▿  
Infection and Immunity  2008;76(12):5826-5833.
The pathogenic mechanisms of Leptospira interrogans, the causal agent of leptospirosis, remain largely unknown. This is mainly due to the lack of tools for genetically manipulating pathogenic Leptospira species. Thus, homologous recombination between introduced DNA and the corresponding chromosomal locus has never been demonstrated for this pathogen. Leptospiral immunoglobulin-like repeat (Lig) proteins were previously identified as putative Leptospira virulence factors. In this study, a ligB mutant was constructed by allelic exchange in L. interrogans; in this mutant a spectinomycin resistance (Spcr) gene replaced a portion of the ligB coding sequence. Gene disruption was confirmed by PCR, immunoblot analysis, and immunofluorescence studies. The ligB mutant did not show decrease virulence compared to the wild-type strain in the hamster model of leptospirosis. In addition, inoculation of rats with the ligB mutant induced persistent colonization of the kidneys. Finally, LigB was not required to mediate bacterial adherence to cultured cells. Taken together, our data provide the first evidence of site-directed homologous recombination in pathogenic Leptospira species. Furthermore, our data suggest that LigB does not play a major role in dissemination of the pathogen in the host and in the development of acute disease manifestations or persistent renal colonization.
doi:10.1128/IAI.00989-08
PMCID: PMC2583567  PMID: 18809657
5.  The terminal portion of leptospiral immunoglobulin-like protein LigA confers protective immunity against lethal infection in the hamster model of leptospirosis 
Vaccine  2007;25(33):6277-6286.
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.
doi:10.1016/j.vaccine.2007.05.053
PMCID: PMC1994161  PMID: 17629368
Leptospirosis; subunit vaccine; Leptospiral immunoglobulin-like protein; recombinant protein; immunity; antibodies; hamsters
6.  Isolation of Leptospira noguchii from sheep 
Veterinary microbiology  2006;121(1-2):144-149.
The main goal of this study was to obtain new isolates of Leptospira spp. from sheep. A total of ten kidney samples and 44 blood samples were collected from sheep slaughtered in Pelotas, Southern Brazil. One isolate was obtained which was identified by 16S rRNA gene sequencing and serogrouping to be Leptospira noguchii serogroup Autumnalis. Microscopic agglutination test (MAT) evaluation revealed that 4.5% of the sheep sera reacted against the Autumnalis serogroup. This is the first report of isolation of L. noguchii from sheep. Together these findings indicate that L. noguchii infections may be a potentially important veterinary problem in this domestic animal species.
doi:10.1016/j.vetmic.2006.11.010
PMCID: PMC1868676  PMID: 17222993
leptospirosis; Leptospira noguchii; isolation; serogrouping; sheep; Brazil

Results 1-6 (6)