Although Helicobacter cinaedi was initially considered an opportunistic pathogen in immunocompromised patients, it was later shown to also infect immunocompetent and healthy individuals. Sporadic bacteremia due to H. cinaedi has frequently been reported; however, whether the bacterium can be translocated after passage through the intestinal mucosa remains unclear. In the present study, a preclinical small animal model that faithfully reproduces H. cinaedi infection in humans was developed. Balb/c male mice were orally inoculated with a single dose of 6.8 × 107 CFU of a human clinical H. cinaedi strain. The organism persistently colonized the intestinal tract of the mice, particularly the cecum and colon, for at least 56 days, and the bacteria were excreted in the feces. Although inoculated bacteria were recovered from the spleen, liver, kidney, lung, bladder and mesenteric lymph nodes during the first 2 weeks of bacteremia, the organism was not isolated from these organs after 4 weeks, suggesting that complement- and antibody-mediated serum sensitivity account for the relatively low frequency of systemic infection. However, H. cinaedi was isolated from the biceps femoris, triceps branchii, latissimus dorsi, and trapezius muscles beyond 2 weeks after infection and after production of specific anti-H. cinaedi IgM and IgG antibodies. The present findings suggest that experimental infection of Balb/c mice with H. cinaedi may be a useful model for further studies of H. cinaedi pathogenesis, prophylaxis or therapeutic interventions in vivo.
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