Pulmonary infections caused by Mycobacterium abscessus (MA) have increased over recent decades, affecting individuals with underlying pathologies such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bronchiectasis and, especially, cystic fibrosis. The lack of a representative and standardized model of chronic infection in mice has limited steps forward in the field of MA pulmonary infection. To overcome this challenge, we refined the method of agar beads to establish MA chronic infection in immunocompetent mice. We evaluated bacterial count, lung pathology and markers of inflammation and we performed longitudinal studies with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) up to three months after MA infection. In this model, MA was able to establish a persistent lung infection for up to two months and with minimal systemic spread. Lung histopathological analysis revealed granulomatous inflammation around bronchi characterized by the presence of lymphocytes, aggregates of vacuolated histiocytes and a few neutrophils, mimicking the damage observed in humans. Furthermore, MA lung lesions were successfully monitored for the first time by MRI. The availability of this murine model and the introduction of the successfully longitudinal monitoring of the murine lung lesions with MRI pave the way for further investigations on the impact of MA pathogenesis and the efficacy of novel treatments.
A new model of chronic mycobacterium abscessus lung infection in immunocompetent mice / Riva, C.; Tortoli, E.; Cugnata, F.; Sanvito, F.; Esposito, A.; Rossi, M.; Colarieti, A.; Canu, T.; Cigana, C.; Bragonzi, A.; Lore, N. I.; Miotto, P.; Cirillo, D. M.. - In: INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MOLECULAR SCIENCES. - ISSN 1661-6596. - 21:18(2020), pp. 1-12. [10.3390/ijms21186590]