Natural animal model systems to study tuberculosis

Parsons, Sven David Charles (2010-03)

Thesis (PhD (Molecular Biology and Human Genetics))--University of Stellenbosch, 2010.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The growing global epidemic of human tuberculosis (TB) results in 8 million new cases of this disease and 2 million deaths annually. Control thereof will require greater insight into the biology of the causative organism, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and into the pathogenesis of the disease. This will benefit the design of new vaccines and diagnostic assays which may reduce the degree of both disease transmission and progression. Animal models have played a vital role in the understanding of the aetiology, pathogenesis, and treatment of TB. Much of such insight has been obtained from experimental infection models, and the development of new vaccines, for example, is dependant on these. Nonetheless, studies utilising naturally occurring TB in animals, such as those which have investigated the use of interferon-gamma release assays (IGRA) for its diagnosis, have contributed substantially to the body of knowledge in this field. However, there are few such examples, and this study sought to identify and investigate naturally occuring animal TB in South Africa as an opportunity to gain further insight into this disease. During the course of this study, the dassie bacillus, a distinctly less virulent variant of M. tuberculosis, was isolated from a rock hyrax from the Western Cape Province of South Africa. This has provided new insight into the widespread occurrence of this organism in rock hyrax populations, and has given impetus to further exploring the nature of the difference in virulence between these pathogens. Also investigated was M. tuberculosis infection in dogs in contact with human TB patients. In so doing, the first reported case of canine TB in South Africa was described, v a novel canine IGRA was developed, and a high level of M. tuberculosis infection in these animals was identified. This supports human data reflecting high levels of transmission of this pathogen during the course of human disease. Additionally, the fact that infected companion animals may progress to disease and potentially act as a source of human infection was highlighted. However, an attempt to adapt a flow cytometric assay to study cell-mediated immune responses during canine TB revealed the limitations of such studies in species in which the immune system remains poorly characterised. The use of IGRAs to diagnose TB was further explored by adapting a human assay, the QuantiFERON-TB Gold (In-Tube Method), for use in non-human primates. These studies have shown that such an adaption allows for the sensitive detection of TB in baboons (Papio ursinus) and rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) and may be suitable for adaption for use in other species. However, they have also evidenced the limitation of this assay to specifically detect infection by M. tuberculosis. Finally, to contextualise the occurrence of the mycobacterial infections described above, and other similar examples, these have been reviewed as an opinion piece. Together, these investigations confirm that animal models will continue to make important contributions to the study of TB. More specifically, they highlight the opportunities that naturally occuring animal TB provides for the discovery of novel insights into this disease.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Wêreldwye tuberkulose (TB) epidemie veroorsaak agt miljoen nuwe gevalle en twee miljoen sterftes jaarliks. Ingryping by die beheer hiervan vereis begrip van die biologie van die mikroörganisme Mycobacterium tuberculosis, die oorsaak van TB, asook van die patogenese van die siekte self. Hierdie kennis kan lei tot ontwerp van nuwe entstowwe en diagnostiese toetse wat gevolglik beide die oordrag- en vordering van die siekte mag bekamp. Dieremodelle speel lankal 'n rol in ons begrip van die etiologie-, patogenese- en behandeling van TB. Insig is grotendeels verkry vanaf eksperimentele infeksiemodelle, en ontwikkeling van entstowwe, onder andere, is afhanklik van soortgelyke modelle. Desnieteenstaande, studies wat natuurlike TB voorkoms in diere ondersoek, byvoorbeeld dié wat op die ontwikkeling van interferon-gamma vrystellingstoetse (IGVT) fokus, het merkwaardige bydrae gemaak tot kennis en begrip in hierdie studieveld. Daar is slegs enkele soortgelyke voorbeelde. Om hierdie rede is die huidige studie uitgevoer waarbinne natuulike diere-TB geïdentifiseer en ondersoek is in Suid-Afrika om verdere kennis en insig te win aangaande TB. Die "dassie bacillus", bekend om beduidend minder virulent te wees as M. tuberculosis, is tydens hierdie studie geïsoleer vanuit 'n klipdassie (Procavia capensis) in die Wes-Kaapse provinsie, Suid-Afrika. Insig in die wydverspreide voorkoms van hierdie organisme in klipdassie bevolkings is gevolglik verkry en verskaf momentum om die aard van verskil in virulensie tussen dié patogene te bestudeer. vii Voorts is M. tuberculosis infeksie bestudeer in honde wat in kontak is met menslike TB pasiënte en word die eerste geval van honde TB dus in Suid-Afrika beskryf. In hierdie groep diere, is 'n hoë vlak van M. tuberculosis infeksie geïdentifiseer deur gebruik te maak van 'n nuut ontwikkelde IGVT vir die diagnose van honde TB. Gevolglik ondersteun dié studie bevindinge van menslike studies wat toon dat besondere hoë vlakke van M. tuberculosis oordrag voorkom gedurende die verloop van die siekte. Verder toon die studie dat geïnfekteerde troeteldiere 'n bron van menslike infeksie kan wees. 'n Poging om 'n vloeisitometriese toets te ontwikkel om die aard van selgefundeerde immuunreaksies te bestudeer in honde met TB toon die beperkings van dergelike studies in spesies waarin die immuunsisteem gebrekkig gekarakteriseer is. Die gebruik van IGVT'e in die diagnose van TB is verder ondersoek deur 'n menslike toets (QuantiFERON-TB Gold, In-Tube Method) aan te pas vir die gebruik van nie-menslike primaat gevalle. Hierdie studies toon gevolglik dat so 'n aanpassing toepaslik is vir hoogs sensitiewe deteksie van TB in chacma bobbejane (Papio ursinus) en rhesus ape (Macaca mulatta), en mag ook aangepas word vir gebruik in ander spesies. Tog word die beperkings van hierdie toets om infeksie wat spesifiek deur M. tuberculosis veroorsaak uitgelig. Ter afsluiting word hierdie studie in konteks geplaas deur 'n oorsig te gee van bogenoemde- en soortgelyke gevalle van dierlike infeksie deur mikobakterieë in Suid-Afrika. Hierdie studies bevestig dat dieremodelle steeds belangrike toevoegings maak tydens die bestudering van TB en lig veral die moontlikhede uit dat bestudering van natuulike TB in diere kan lei tot die ontdekking van nuwe insigte ten opsigte van die siekte self.

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