Mycoplasma genitalium is an emerging sexually transmitted infection and in women is associated with notable reproductive tract syndromes such as cervicitis, pelvic inflammatory disease, and infertility. Investigations into the causal relationships of M. genitalium infections and clinical disease have been hindered largely by the lack of a well-established small-animal model of genital tract infection. To establish a murine model, female Swiss Webster mice were conditioned with either progesterone or estradiol and then inoculated intravaginally with M. genitalium type strain G37 or a contemporary Danish strain, M2300. Persistent lower tract infection was observed at up to 77 days postinoculation (d.p.i.). Upper reproductive tract colonization was observed as early as 3 d.p.i., with long-term infection observed in estradiol-treated (65%) and progesterone-treated (18%) animals. In the upper tract, more than 90% of M. genitalium PCR-positive samples were from the uterus and oviducts. Ultimately, gross hydrosalpinx was observed 21 days to 10 weeks p.i. in approximately 60% of infected animals, suggesting the presence of tubal occlusion. In addition, dissemination of M. genitalium to the knee tissues was observed as early as 7 d.p.i., with persistent infection detected at up to 28 d.p.i. Mice infected with M. genitalium also developed specific antibodies to the major antigenic outer membrane protein MgPa, elongation factor Tu, pyruvate dehydrogenase E1α, and DnaK (Hsp70), indicating persistent infection despite robust humoral responses to infection. These findings provide strong experimental evidence that M. genitalium can establish long-term infection of reproductive tract and joint tissues, with preliminary evidence of pathological reproductive tract outcomes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases