A high prevalence of Brucella pinnipedialis serology and bacteriology positive animals has been found in the Northeast Atlantic stock of hooded seal (Cystophora cristata); however no associated gross pathological changes have been identified. Marine mammal brucellae have previously displayed different infection patterns in human and murine macrophages. To investigate if marine mammal Brucella spp. are able to invade and multiply in cells originating from a presumed host species, we infected alveolar macrophages from hooded seal with a B. pinnipedialis hooded seal isolate. Hooded seal alveolar macrophages were also challenged with B. pinnipedialis reference strain (NCTC 12890) from harbor seal (Phoca vitulina), B. ceti reference strain (NCTC 12891) from harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) and a B. ceti Atlantic white-sided dolphin (Lagenorhynchus acutus) isolate (M83/07/1), to evaluate possible species-specific differences. Brucella suis 1330 was included as a positive control. Alveolar macrophages were obtained by post mortem bronchoalveolar lavage of euthanized hooded seals. Phenotyping of cells in the lavage fluid was executed by flow cytometry using the surface markers CD14 and CD18. Cultured lavage cells were identified as alveolar macrophages based on morphology, expression of surface markers and phagocytic ability. Alveolar macrophages were challenged with Brucella spp. in a gentamicin protection assay. Following infection, cell lysates from different time points were plated and evaluated quantitatively for colony forming units. Intracellular presence of B. pinnipedialis hooded seal isolate was verified by immunocytochemistry. Our results show that the marine mammal brucellae were able to enter hooded seal alveolar macrophages; however, they did not multiply intracellularly and were eliminated within 48 hours, to the contrary of B. suis that showed the classical pattern of a pathogenic strain. In conclusion, none of the four marine mammal strains tested were able to establish a persistent infection in primary alveolar macrophages from hooded seal. © 2013 Larsen et al.
Larsen, A. K., Nymo, I. H., Boysen, P., Tryland, M., & Godfroid, J. (2013). Entry and Elimination of Marine Mammal Brucella spp. by Hooded Seal (Cystophora cristata) Alveolar Macrophages In Vitro. PLoS ONE, 8(7). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0070186