Time-lapse confocal imaging of development of Bacillus anthracis in macrophages

J Infect Dis. 2004 Apr 1;189(7):1313-6. doi: 10.1086/382656. Epub 2004 Mar 19.


Macrophages attempt to battle infection with Bacillus anthracis spores by phagocytosis of the spores. However, it is believed that B. anthracis spores may survive phagocytosis and may actually use the macrophages that ingest them as a means of transport to lymph nodes. Thus far, the events that occur after spores undergo phagocytosis have remained unclear. To elucidate the fate of spores internalized by macrophages, we have used time-lapse confocal microscopy to follow individual fluorescent spores over time. By use of this method, we have determined that some phagocytized spores survive beyond germination, to become bacilli that then replicate within the macrophages.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacillus anthracis / growth & development
  • Bacillus anthracis / immunology
  • Bacillus anthracis / physiology*
  • Carbocyanines / chemistry
  • Fluorescent Dyes / chemistry
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Macrophages / microbiology*
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Organic Chemicals
  • Phagocytosis / physiology
  • Spores, Bacterial


  • 3,3'-dihexadecylindocarbocyanine
  • Carbocyanines
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Organic Chemicals
  • SYTOX Green