Anatomical and immunological responses of rabbit gallbladders to bacterial infections

Robert H. Gilman, Charles Young, Ruth Bulger, Richard B. Hornick, Barbara Greenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


To study the sequential morphological and immunological response of the rabbit gallbladder to bacterial infection and to compare the inflammatory responses with different pathogens, gallbladders were infected with Streptococcus faecalis and two strains of Escherichia coli, one of which produced enterotoxin. Gallbladder infection was produced either by intravenously injecting bacteria into rabbits with a small liver infarct or by injecting bacteria directly into the gallbladder of normal rabbits. The percentage of gallbladders infected intravenously with a nonenterotoxigenic E. coli strain was 86% at 1 week, 70% at 3 weeks, and 15% at 6 weeks. Epithelial necrosis and leukocyte infiltrations were prominent 1 week after infection. At 3 and 6 weeks after infection, there was crypt distortion and increased mucus secretion in the epithelium as shown by periodic acid-Schiff staining. The lamina propria was infiltrated with mononuclear cells, many of which were plasma cells. Myofibroblasts (contractile fibroblasts) were also identified on transmission microscopy. In addition to these changes, toxigenic E. coli produced subepithelial capillary dilatation in the villus core. Morphological changes (excluding toxin-associated changes) were related to the duration of infection rather than to the specific species of infecting bacteria. Infected gall-bladders studied by immunofluorescence had a greater than 50-fold increase in plasma cells compared with control cells. In addition, the number increased with the duration of infection. Immunoglobulin A cells were the major cell type in gallbladders infected by intravesical injection, whereas immunoglobulin G cells predominated in gallbladders infected intravenously. The gallbladder appears to mount a local immune response to bacterial infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)407-416
Number of pages10
JournalUnknown Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1982

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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