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Open Access Research

Protection from reinfection in “Candidatus Mycoplasma turicensis”-infected cats and characterization of the immune response

Marilisa Novacco1*, Felicitas S Boretti2, Marco Franchini3, Barbara Riond1, Marina L Meli1 and Regina Hofmann-Lehmann1

Author Affiliations

1 Clinical Laboratory, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 260, Zurich, 8057, Switzerland

2 Clinic for Small Animal Internal Medicine, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 260, Zurich, 8057, Switzerland

3 Institute of Virology, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 260, Zurich, 8057, Switzerland

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Veterinary Research 2012, 43:82  doi:10.1186/1297-9716-43-82

Published: 6 December 2012

Abstract

Candidatus Mycoplasma turicensis” (CMt) is a hemoplasma species of felids. Recent evidence has shown that cats that overcome bacteremia may be protected from reinfection. The purposes of this study were to (1) re-inoculate ostensibly recovered cats, (2) evaluate the immune response and (3) assess CMt tissue loads. Fifteen specified pathogen-free cats were subcutaneously inoculated with CMt: 10 cats (group A) had previously undergone bacteremia and recovered, and 5 naïve cats (group B) served as controls. CMt infections were monitored by real-time PCR using blood and tissue, and the humoral immune response was assessed using DnaK ELISA. Cytokine mRNA expression levels were measured by real-time PCR, and lymphocyte subsets were detected by flow cytometry. The cats in group A were protected from reinfection (no detectable bacteremia) and showed a transient decrease in antibodies. Eosinophilia was noted in cats from group A. The cats from group B became PCR-positive and seroconverted. All of the tissues analyzed from the cats in group B but none of the tissues analyzed from the cats in group A were CMt PCR-positive. Significant changes were observed in the expression of tumor necrosis factor-α, interferon-γ, interleukin-4 and the Th2/Th1 ratio in both groups. The cats from group A occasionally showed higher numbers of CD4+, CD8+, CD4+CD25+ and CD5+MHCII+ T lymphocytes than the control cats. In conclusion, this study describes, for the first time, the occurrence of immunological protection within the same hemoplasma species. Furthermore, the immune response during CMt infections appeared to be skewed toward the Th2 type.