Effects of cell walls (CWs) from two almost identical strains of Bifidobacterium adolescentis were studied in rats, using three different doses. A single i.p. injection of both CWs triggered a long-lasting arthritis with CW degradation products present in the joint tissue. Histologically, the arthritis was characterized by inflammatory cells, synovial hyperplasia, pannus formation and bone erosion, closely resembling human rheumatoid arthritis (RA). In addition, CWs of the other strain induced a remarkable granuloma formation in the spleen and liver. Both CWs have the same peptidoglycan (PG) type A4α/β, but differ from each other in three aspects. CW of the granuloma inducing strain: firstly has more lysine and less ornithine in PG stem peptides; secondly is more resistant to lysozyme degradation, and thirdly is better retained in the spleen. All these in comparison to the other strain used. Such characteristics are associated with the capacity to induce chronic arthritis, but it remains open how crucial they are for the granuloma formation.
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