A simian model of human granulocytic ehrlichiosis.

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  • 1 School of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Medicine and Epidemiology, University of California, Davis 95616, USA.

Following intravenous inoculation with horse blood-infected with the agent of human granulocytic ehrlichiosis (HGE) from a human fatality, two rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) exhibited pyrexia and lethargy on days 4-12 postinfection (PI). Hematology revealed neutropenia, thrombocytopenia, and anemia, with ehrlichial morulae in monocytes and neutrophils on days 4-12. Blood was polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-positive on days 4-12 and bone marrow was PCR-positive on day 11. There was a minor increase in gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase on day 12 and serum interferon-gamma levels increased by day 18. Seroconversion occurred on day 20 PI to a titer of 100 by day 22. Western blot bands characteristic of HGE included 25-, 44-, 80-, 94-, 105-, and 125-kD bands. There was generalized lymphohistiocytic infiltration in the liver, spleen, lymph nodes, and other tissues. The liver had focal hepatocyte apoptosis. There was HGE DNA (by PCR) only in the spleen. Comparable findings were not observed in a monkey that received uninfected horse blood as a control. This animal model of human disease is important for further studies of HGE diagnosis, management, and pathogenesis.