Whole-cell suspensions (WCSs) and cell-free sonicated extracts (SEs) of seven Bordetella bronchiseptica strains were studied for lethality and lienotoxicity in mice. Lethality was assessed after intravenous and intracerebral inoculation, and lienotoxicity by splenic atrophy after intravenous inoculation. The strains represented phase I isolates with or without cytotoxin production, their phase III subcultures and a phase IV variant. The lethality and lienotoxicity of the SEs were in close positive correlation with cytotoxin production. The WCSs of all phase I strains were lethal, irrespective of their cytotoxin- and lienotoxin-producing ability. The only difference was that cytotoxic phase I strains caused splenic atrophy while the noncytotoxic phase I strain induced splenic hypertrophy in the surviving mice. The WCSs of phase III and IV variants were non-lethal and caused splenic hypertrophy even though all but one of them showed some cyto- and lienotoxic activity when their SEs were tested. The results indicate that B. bronchiseptica possesses two different mouse lethal factors: one seems to be identical with the cytotoxin, the other is associated with cell integrity and viability and, presumably, propagation in vivo. It also follows from the results that only the SEs are suitable for accurate determination of the lienotoxin-producing ability of B. bronchiseptica. © 1990.
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