Specific antibodies contribute to the host protection against strains of Francisella tularensis subspecies holarctica

Microb Pathog. 2003 Aug;35(2):73-80. doi: 10.1016/s0882-4010(03)00095-0.


T cells are crucial to the control and eradication of the facultative intracellular bacterium Francisella tularensis. A contributory role of humoral antibodies in the host defence remains to be assessed. We used B-cell-deficient mice to study the possible contribution of antibodies to the defence against the live vaccine strain (LVS) or a clinical isolate of F. tularensis, both belonging to the subspecies holarctica (type B). When B-cell-deficient (Igmu(-/-)) mice of the C57BL/10 background were administered immune serum one day before intradermal injection of LVS, they developed lower bacterial numbers in skin, liver, and spleen than did mice receiving normal serum, and survived a challenge inoculum that was lethal for mice given normal serum. Administration of immune serum to C57BL/10 mice afforded protection also against infection with the clinical isolate of F. tularensis subsp. holarctica. Five days after intradermal inoculation of bacteria of the isolate, animals receiving immune serum showed 4log10 lower bacterial counts in liver and spleen than mice administered normal serum. In mice primed by LVS infection, T-cell immunity and host protection were strong and only a marginal contribution of immune serum against a secondary intradermal infection was demonstrated. Together, these findings show that specific antibodies contribute to the host defence of mice against F. tularensis subsp. holarctica.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / biosynthesis
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / blood
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / immunology*
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Francisella tularensis / growth & development
  • Francisella tularensis / immunology*
  • Francisella tularensis / pathogenicity
  • Immune Sera / immunology
  • Immunization, Passive*
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Immunoglobulin M / blood
  • Liver / microbiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Mutant Strains
  • Skin / microbiology
  • Spleen / microbiology
  • Tularemia / immunology
  • Tularemia / microbiology
  • Tularemia / prevention & control*
  • Virulence


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Immune Sera
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Immunoglobulin M