Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the causative agent of a pulmonary epidemic that is estimated to infect one-third of the worlds population and that has an increased incidence of multidrug resistance. The evaluation of new chemical entities against M. tuberculosis is hampered by the lack of biological tools to help predict efficacy, from early drug development to clinical trials. As the rat is the animal species of choice in the pharmaceutical industry, we have developed a rat model of acute and chronic phases of M. tuberculosis infection for drug efficacy testing. In this model, we have evaluated the impact of tuberculosis drugs on T cell response using the enzyme-linked immunospot assay methodology. Infected rats treated with isoniazid (INH) or rifampin (RIF) responded to therapy, the potency of which was comparable to that seen in the mouse. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells from infected rats produced gamma interferon (IFN-?) in response to RD-1 antigens, such as the 6-kDa early secretory antigen target (ESAT-6) and the 10-kDa culture filtrate protein (CFP-10). A decrease in IFN-? spot-forming cells (SFCs) was consistently observed in response to drug treatment. In both the acute- and chronic-phase models, the T cell response was more sensitive to ESAT-6 than to CFP-10. The SFC count in response to ESAT-6 appears to be an indicator of bacterial killing in the rat. Collectively, our data suggest that the ESAT-6 response could be used as a potential surrogate of drug efficacy in the rat and that such a readout could help shorten drug testing during preclinical development.
Hypoxia is believed to influence the metabolic state of Mycobacterium tuberculosis and cause phenotypic drug resistance. Using pimonidazole adduct staining, we show that lung lesions of infected rats contain regions of low oxygen tension. Our results support the use of the rat model for evaluating anaerobic drug activity in vivo.
Despite the availability of many animal models for tuberculosis (TB) research, there still exists a need for better understanding of the quiescent stage of disease observed in many humans. Here, we explored the use of the Wistar rat model for the study of protective immunity and control of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) infection.
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