Primary cultures of human umbilical vein endothelial cells were inoculated with plaque-purified Rickettsia rickettsii. After adsorption of rickettsiae, monolayers were overlaid with medium containing 0.5% agarose. Small plaques appeared on day 4 postinoculation, and distinct 1- to 2-mm plaques were observed on day 5. Plaquing efficiency was less than that of primary chicken embryo cells in the same medium. Human endothelial cell monolayers were susceptible to infection by R. ricketsii and underwent necrosis as demonstrated by supravital staining. The topographic association of endothelial cell necrosis and rickettsial infection in the plaque model confirmed the direct cytopathic effect of R. rickettsii on human endothelium. Uninfected cells appeared normal by supravital staining and transmission electron microscopy. This model offers the possibility of investigating rickettsial pathogenesis and mechanisms of enhanced severity of Rocky Mountain spotted fever in specific genetically determined conditions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases