Early macrophage response to Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis
Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP) is the causative agent of Johne’s disease, a chronic enteritis that has a damaging economic and welfare impact on the livestock industry. Johne’s disease in cattle is known to reduce milk yield and carcass value, making it of economic concern to both dairy and beef farmers. In addition, there is cause for concern regarding zoonotic transmission, as there is an unconfirmed but potential relationship between MAP infection and human Crohn’s disease, which presents similar clinical symptoms. MAP is most often contracted by neonates through the faecal-oral route, but can also be spread through contact with contaminated milk and colostrum, as well as in utero. Once the host receives an oral dose, the bacteria traverse the gut epithelium and are phagocytosed by gut macrophages residing in the lamina propria and Peyer’s patches. MAP are able to evade the macrophage response by resisting intracellular degradation within phagosomes. Infected macrophages respond to the infection by secreting several pro-inflammatory cytokines that drive the downstream immune response and granuloma formation. This work aimed to elucidate key early responses of bovine monocyte derived macrophages (MDM) to MAP infection, and determine the reliability of using the reference strain, K10 (which is likely to have undergone lab adaptation) to model the infection in vitro, by comparing the MDM response to K10 with the response to a recent clinical isolate, C49. At a multiplicity of infection of 5 (MOI 5), there was a significant decrease in K10 intracellular survival (~90%), compared to C49 intracellular survival, over a 24 hour infection time-course. This suggests that K10 may have lost some virulence mechanism through lab adaptation. Understanding the mechanisms of how MDM respond to these two strains could be informative for the design of targeted vaccines When further investigating the MDM response to both strains, it was found that, at MOI 5, MDM infected with K10 secreted higher levels of IL-1β and IL-10, compared to MDM infected with C49. Both cytokines are associated with mycobacterial infection and could perhaps indicate that MDM are more responsive to the K10 strain at early time-points. In addition, MDM infected with K10 produced significantly higher levels of reactive nitrogen species (RNS). RNS are antimicrobial products that can destroy invading pathogens, and have been shown to have bactericidal effects on MAP. The production of RNS could, therefore be a potential mechanism by which MDM are able to kill K10 more efficiently than C49. An additional aim of this project was to understand the importance of the route of phagocytosis in determining the outcome of MAP infection. MDM express several phagocytic receptors, including Fc receptors (FcRs), complement receptors (CR), Ctype lectin receptors and scavenger receptors. This project mainly focused on the role of the mannose receptor (MR) on bacterial uptake and downstream immune responses, as past studies have suggested that other species of mycobacteria such as M. tuberculosis, target the mannose receptor in order to regulate macrophage immune responses. Blocking the MR reduced intracellular survival for both strains of MAP; however, the mechanism by which the MR influences intracellular survival remains poorly understood The effect of opsonisation on MAP prior to uptake by phagocytic cells was also investigated, as presence of opsonins, such a complement proteins and antibody, can change the mechanism by which pathogens are phagocytosed. MAP were incubated in serum from either MAP- negative or MAP- positive cattle, prior to infection and the percentage uptake and survival assessed by performing colony counts. Opsonisation in serum from Johne’s negative cattle resulted in marked increase in MAP uptake but not intracellular survival, whereas opsonisation in serum from Johne’s positive cattle did not increase uptake but decreased the intracellular survival rate by 24 HPI. This finding highlights a potential protective role of antibody early in the infection process, and could significantly impact how the infection is modelled in future, as anti-MAP antibody may be present in contaminated milk at the point of infection. Taken together, the data presented in this thesis show that bacterial strain has a significant impact on MDM response to MAP infection, which may have important implications for the interpretation of previous studies and the design of future studies investigating host-pathogen interactions in the context of paratuberculosis. Additionally, this work has shown that RNS production and the mechanism of uptake can affect intracellular survival rates, and although this needs further investigation, the findings could have implications for the design of future vaccines.