Human granulocytic anaplasmosis (HGA) is caused by the obligate intracellular bacterium Anaplasma phagocytophilum. Our data previously demonstrated that A. phagocytophilum induces an immunopathologic response by activating IFN-γ production through the Stat1 signaling pathway. In this study, we investigated the broader role of Stat1 signaling in the host response to infection with A. phagocytophilum. In Stat1 knockout (KO) compared with wild-Type mice, A. phagocytophilum infection was more highly pathogenic as characterized by the unanticipated development of clinical signs in mice including markedly increased splenomegaly, more severe inflammatory splenic and hepatic histopathology, >100-fold higher blood and splenic bacterial loads, and more elevated proinflammatory cytokine/chemokine responses in serum. CD4+ and CD8+ T lymphocyte populations were significantly expanded in spleens of A. phagocytophilum-infected Stat1 KO mice compared with wild-Type mice. The leukocyte infiltrates in the livers and spleens of A. phagocytophilum-infected Stat1 KO mice also contained expansions in neutrophil and monocyte/macrophage populations. Importantly, A. phagocytophilum-infected Stat1 KO mice did not demonstrate induction of inducible NO synthase in splenocytes. These results show that Stat1 plays an important role in controlling bacterial loads but also by unexpectedly providing an undefined mechanism for dampening of the immunopathologic response observed with A. phagocytophilum infection.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy