Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


UC Davis researchers discover molecular target for the bacterial infection brucellosis

UC Davis scientists have uncovered a potential drug target for the development of an effective therapy against the debilitating, chronic form of the bacterial disease brucellosis, which primarily afflicts people in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries.

Brucellosis, which affects about 500,000 people worldwide each year, typically is caused by ingestion of unsterilized milk or close contact with body secretions from infected animals. Symptoms include intermittent or irregular fever of variable duration, headache, weakness, profuse sweating, chills, weight loss and generalized aching. It can also cause long-lasting or chronic symptoms such as recurrent fevers, joint pain and fatigue.

In a paper published online this week in the journal Cell Host & Microbe, the researchers reported that they have identified the cells that harbor the B. abortus bacteria during the persistent phase of the brucellosis. The cells, known as alternatively activated macrophages (AAMs), are a recently identified category of immune defense cells.

The researchers also determined that the biological pathway peroxisome proliferator activated receptor ã, abbreviated as PPARã, is responsible for altering the metabolism of AAMs so that they supply B. abortus with the energy in the form of glucose that enables bacteria to survive and replicate and thereby sustain the chronic phase of the infectious disease. Other labs also have shown that PPARã control a cell’s metabolism.

“We found that PPARã induces a metabolic shift in these cells that causes them to generate glucose,” said Renee Tsolis, associate professor of medical microbiology and immunology at UC Davis who led the study.

“Starving the B. abortus bacteria by inhibiting the PPARã pathway may be a new approach to eradicating the chronic, difficult-to-treat form of Brucellosis infection that usually occurs because antibiotic therapy was not used during the acute, or early, phase of the infection,” said Tsolis.

Tsolis and her collaborators were the first to discover PPARã’s role in brucellosis and to determine that AAMs harbor the bacteria during the chronic stage of the disease. The identification of the bacteria’s niche is another important clue for the development of a more effective treatment, she said.

In a series of experiments, Tsolis and collaborators found that the gene encoding PPARã is very active during chronic Brucellosis infection, but not during acute infection, and that the B. abortus bacteria did not survive in AAMs when deprived of glucose.

When the researchers inactivated the protein that normally transports glucose, the bacteria stopped reproducing, and the infection no longer was chronic, she said.

In mice infected with B. abortus, Tsolis and collaborators treated the animals with GW9662, a PPAR inhibitor. The researchers administered the inhibitor before the infection became chronic, or long lasting. The inhibitor significantly reduced the amount of AAMs and B. abortus bacteria in the mice.

“These results suggested that inhibition of PPARreduced the bacteria’s survival by reducing the abundance of AAMs during chronic infection,” said Tsolis.

Conversely, when the researchers treated the B. abortus-infected mice with Rosiglitazone, a drug that boosts PPAR activity, the bacteria increased by two-fold during the acute phase and four-fold during the chronic phase of infection. Rosiglitazone and other drugs that boost PPARare used to treat type 2 diabetes because they lower blood glucose by increasing cellular glucose uptake.

In other experiments, the researchers showed that AAMs, one of two categories of macrophages, are abundant in the spleen during chronic brucellosis but not during the acute, or initial, phase of the infection, which is dominated by classically activated macrophages (CAM), the second category of these immune cells.

In addition to profuse sweating, symptoms of brucellosis infection include joint and muscle pain. Among the complications of chronic infection are arthritis and endocarditis, a serious inflammation of one of the four heart valves. Brucellosis rarely occurs in the U.S., with about 100 to 200 cases reported each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The title of the journal paper is “A PPARã-mediated increase in glucose availability sustains chronic Brucella abortus infection in alternatively activated macrophages.”

Authors also include: Mariana N. Xavier, Maria G. Winter, Alanna M. Spees, Andreas B. den Hartigh, Kim Nguyen, Christelle M. Roux, Vidya L. Atluri, Tobias Kerrinnes, A. Marijke Keestra and Andreas J. Baumler of UC Davis; Denise M. Monack of Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA; and Paul A. Luciw, Richard A. Eigenheer, Renato L. Santos and Teane M.A. Silva of the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais in Brazil.

UC Davis Health System is improving lives and transforming health care by providing excellent patient care, conducting groundbreaking research, fostering innovative, interprofessional education, and creating dynamic, productive partnerships with the community. The academic health system includes one of the country's best medical schools, a 619-bed acute-care teaching hospital, a 1000-member physician's practice group and the new Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing. It is home to a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center, an international neurodevelopmental institute, a stem cell institute and a comprehensive children's hospital. Other nationally prominent centers focus on advancing telemedicine, improving vascular care, eliminating health disparities and translating research findings into new treatments for patients. Together, they make UC Davis a hub of innovation that is transforming health for all. For more information, visit

Carole Gan | EurekAlert!
Further information:

Further reports about: PPAR gamma brucellosis chronic infection immune cell rosiglitazone

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Gene therapy shows promise for treating Niemann-Pick disease type C1
27.10.2016 | NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute

nachricht 'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape
27.10.2016 | International School of Advanced Studies (SISSA)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>