Host transcriptomic profiling of CD-1 outbred mice with severe clinical outcomes following infection with Orientia tsutsugamushi

Joseph Thiriot, Yuejin Liang, James Fisher, David H. Walker, Lynn Soong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Orientia tsutsugamushi is an obligately intracellular bacterium with endothelial tropism and can cause mild to lethal scrub typhus in humans. No vaccine is available for this reemerging and severely neglected infection. Previous scrub typhus studies have utilized inbred mice, yet such models have intrinsic limitations. Thus, the development of suitable mouse models that better mimic human diseases is in great need for immunologic investigation and future vaccine studies. This study is aimed at establishing scrub typhus in outbred CD-1 mice and defining immune biomarkers related to disease severity. CD-1 mice received O. tsutsuga-mushi Karp strain via the i.v. route; major organs were harvested at 2–12 days post-infection for kinetic analyses. We found that for our given infection doses, CD-1 mice were significantly more susceptible (90–100% lethal) than were inbred C57BL/6 mice (0–10% lethal). Gross pathology of infected CD-1 mouse organs revealed features that mimicked human scrub typhus, including pulmonary edema, interstitial pneumonia, perivascular lymphocytic infiltrates, and vasculitis. Alteration in angiopoietin/receptor expression in inflamed lungs implied endothelial dysfunction. Lung immune gene profiling using NanoString analysis dis-played a Th1/CD8-skewed, but Th2 repressed profile, including novel biomarkers not previously investigated in other scrub typhus models. Bio-plex analysis revealed a robust inflammatory response in CD-1 mice as evidenced by increased serum cytokine and che-mokine levels, correlating with immune cell recruitment during the severe stages of the dis-ease. This study provides an important framework indicating a value of CD-1 mice for delineating host susceptibility to O. tsutsugamushi, immune dysregulation, and disease pathogenesis. This preclinical model is particularly useful for future translational and vaccine studies for severe scrub typhus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0010459
JournalPLoS neglected tropical diseases
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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