Virulence of Burkholderia cepacia complex strains in gp91phox-/-mice

Silvia A. Sousa, Martina Ulrich, Alessandra Bragonzi, Margaret Burke, Dieter Worlitzsch, Jorge H. Leitão, Christoph Meisner, Leo Eberl, Isabel Sá-correia, Gerd Döring

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In cystic fibrosis (CF), infection with Burkholderia cepacia complex (Bcc) strains may cause long-term asymptomatic airway colonization, or severe lung infection leading to rapid pulmonary decline. To assess the virulence of Bcc strains, we established a lung infection model in mice with a null allele of the gene involved in X-linked chronic granulomatous disease (CGD). CGD mice, challenged intratracheally with 103 cells of the epidemic Burkholderia cenocepacia strain J2315, died within 3 days from sepsis after bacteria had multiplied to 3.3 × 108 cells. Infected mice developed neutrophil-dominated lung abscesses. Other B. cenocepacia strains and a B. cepacia strain were less virulent and one B. multivorans and one B. vietnamensis CF isolate were both avirulent. Bcc mutants, defective in exopolysaccharide synthesis or quorum sensing revealed diminished or no abscess formation and mortality. Immunofluorescence staining of Bcc-infected murine and CF lung tissues revealed colocalization of Bcc and neutrophils, suggesting Bcc persistence within neutrophils in CGD and CF. In vitro, Bcc cells were rapidly killed during aerobic neutrophil phagocytosis; however, the pathogens survived in neutrophils with blocked nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate oxidase activity and under anaerobic conditions. We conclude that the Bcc infection model in CGD mice is well suited for the assessment of Bcc virulence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2817-2825
Number of pages9
JournalCellular Microbiology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Microbiology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Virulence of Burkholderia cepacia complex strains in gp91phox-/-mice'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this

    Sousa, S. A., Ulrich, M., Bragonzi, A., Burke, M., Worlitzsch, D., Leitão, J. H., Meisner, C., Eberl, L., Sá-correia, I., & Döring, G. (2007). Virulence of Burkholderia cepacia complex strains in gp91phox-/-mice. Cellular Microbiology, 9(12), 2817-2825.