Divergent cytokine responses of macrophages to Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis strains of Type II and III in a standardized in vitro model

Based on epidemiological and clinical observations, different strains of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP) are suspected to significantly differ in their virulence for ruminants. In the pathogenesis of paratuberculosis, macrophages represent the principal target cell for MAP. In order to judge the ability of different MAP-genotypes to modulate macrophage responses, the cytokine responses of the monocyte cell line THP-1 were studied after challenge with three different MAP strains under standardized conditions. The bovine field isolate J1961 (major Type II) and the ovine field isolate JIII-86 (Type III) were compared with the laboratory adapted reference strain ATCC 19698 (Type II). Strains were shown by three different typing methods (IS900-RFLP-, MIRU-VNTR-, and SSR-analysis) to substantially differ in several genotypic features. Macrophage function was assessed by quantifying mRNA of the cytokines TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-10 by quantitative RT-PCR. Secreted TNF-α protein was measured by a cytotoxicity test, IL-1β and IL-10 using ELISA tests. The three MAP strains of various genotypes differ in their effect on human macrophages depending on challenge dose and infection time. These differences concerned both the mRNA level and secreted protein amounts of proinflammatory cytokines TNF-α, IL-1β and anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10. Type III strain produced less IL-10 and IL-1β mRNA and protein but more TNF α-protein at 2 h than the Type II strains. In summary, our results support the hypothesis that strain characteristics might have relevance for the host response towards MAP and, consequently, for the pathogenesis of paratuberculosis.



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