Purpose: Guinea pig is one of the most suitable animal models for Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tb) infection since it shows similarities to pulmonary infection in humans. Although guinea pig shows hematogenous spread of M. tb infection into the whole body, immunological studies have mainly focused on granulomatous tissues in lungs and spleens. In order to investigate the time-course of disease patho-genesis and immunological profiles in each infected organ, we performed the following approaches with guinea pigs experimentally infected with M. tb over a 22-week post-infection period. Materials and Methods: We examined body weight changes, M. tb growth curve, cytokine gene expression (IFN-γ and TNF-α), and histopathology in liver, spleen, lungs and lymph nodes of infected guinea pigs. Results: The body weights of infected guinea pigs did not increase as much as uninfected ones and the number of M. tb bacilli in their organs increased except bron-chotracheal lymph node during the experimental period. The gene expression of IFN-γ and TNF-α was induced between 3 and 6 weeks of infection; however, kinetic profiles of cytokine gene expression showed heterogeneity among organs over the study period. Histophathologically granulomatous lesions were developed in all four organs of infected guinea pigs. Conclusion: Although IFN-γ and TNF-α gene expression profiles showed heterogeneity, the granuloma formation was clearly observed in every organ regardless of whether the number of bacilli increased or decreased. However, this protective immunity was accompanied with severe tissue damage in all four organs, which may lead to the death of guinea pigs.
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