Mycobacterial Infections in Rabbits: From the Wild to the Laboratory

R. Arrazuria, R. A. Juste, N. Elguezabal

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Tuberculous mycobacterial diseases such as leprosy and tuberculosis are ancient diseases that currently continue threatening human health in some countries. Non-tuberculous mycobacterial (NTM) infections cause a series of well-defined pathological entities, as well as some opportunistic diseases that have also increased worldwide, being more common among immunocompromised patients but rising also in immunocompetent individuals. Reports on natural infections by mycobacteria in rabbits are scarce and mainly involve NTM such as Mycobacterium avium subsp. avium in pigmy rabbits in the United States and Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis in wild rabbits in Europe. Rabbits have been used as laboratory animals through the years, both to generate immunological reagents and as infection models. Mycobacterial infection models have been developed in this animal species showing different susceptibility patterns to mycobacteria in laboratory conditions. The latent tuberculosis model and the cavitary tuberculosis model have been widely used to elucidate pathogenic mechanisms and to evaluate chemotherapy and vaccination strategies. Rabbits have also been used as bovine paratuberculosis infection models. This review aimed to gather both wildlife and experimental infection data on mycobacteriosis in rabbits to assess their role in the spread of these infections as well as their potential use in the experimental study of mycobacterial pathogenesis and treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1045-1058
Number of pages14
JournalTransboundary and Emerging Diseases
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • animal model
  • mycobacteriosis
  • rabbits

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Veterinary


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