Rheumatic fever: an animal model for a human disease

by de Paes, Flavio Ferraz

Abstract (Summary)
Rheumatic fever is a good example of an autoimmune disease triggered by an infectious process. One to four weeks after the resolution of a non treated pharyngitis caused by rheumatogenic strains of S. pyogenes, the susceptible host unravels an immune response targeting joints, heart, conective tissues and brain. It is thought that molecules present in the bacteria and recognized during the infection at the pharynx are confounded with the organism self structure in a process called ?molecular mimicry?. Amongst the proteins involved in the cross reaction, it may be found cardiac myosin, on the host side, and M protein on the invading organism?s side. The latter (Mprotein) has been extensively studied. It is the basis of the S. pyogenes strains classification, and also an important virulence factor. It has also been explored as an immunogen in several vaccine strategies. The nderstanding of this disease has been hampered by the absence of an animal model that reproduces fundamental aspects of the human pathology, specially cardiac lesions. One of the reasons is the fact that animals do not get infected by S. pyogenes. Hence we have produced the recombinant M1 protein and shown that either the immunization of 28 Lewis rats for a period of 21 days or 14 rats for a period of 41 days, was capable of inducing an inflammatory response in most of the animals with variable intensity. Aschoff nodules-like or Anitschkow-like cells resembling rheumatic fever pathognomonic lesions were seen in 50% of the animals immunized subcutaneously and sacrificed on day 21. We have observed an humoral and cellular response (spleen and lymph node derived cells) specifically targeting M1 protein and the amino (M1AB) and carboxy (M1C) terminus of the protein. However, cross reactions with cardiac myosin were not observer. We have derived T lymphocyte lineages obtained from myocardium infiltrating mononuclear cells from 6 of the 10 animals immunized with M1ABC protein subcutaneously and sacrificed on day 41 and also from one out of four PBS - adjuvant immunized animals. These results suggest the presence of autoreactive cells in the myocardium of the immunized animals. In conclusion, the use of the M1 protein as an immunogen on the Lewis rat model is capable of triggering an inflammatory reaction in the myocardium and valvular tissue and it can produce rheumatic fever like lesions. The Lewis rat model is up to this moment the one to present the highest similarity with human disease. Besides, it will certainly be important on the evaluation of the protection and safety of S. pyogenes vaccines.
This document abstract is also available in Portuguese.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Luiza Guilherme Guglielmi; Vera Demarchi Aiello; Myrthes Anna Maragna Toledo Barros; Roger Abramino Levy; Suzana Beatriz Verissimo de Mello; Luiza Guilherme Guglielmi

School:Universidade de São Paulo

School Location:Brazil

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:Lew endogamic rat Molecular mimicry Rheumatic fever nodule Streptococcus pyogenes


Date of Publication:08/28/2006

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