Superior virulence of Mycobacterium bovis over Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) for Mtb-resistant and Mtb-susceptible mice is manifest as an ability to cause extrapulmonary disease

Tuberculosis (Edinb). 2006 Jan;86(1):20-7. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2005 Oct 25.


Mice of a Mycobacterium tuberculosis-resistant (BALB/c) and of a M. tuberculosis-susceptible (DBA/2) strain proved considerably more susceptible, and equally so, to infection with Mycobacterium bovis than with M. tuberculosis when infection was initiated via the iv route. Infection with M. tuberculosis was eventually controlled at an approximately stationary level in the lungs, livers, spleens and kidneys of BALB/c mice, and in all of these organs except the lungs in DBA/2 mice. M. tuberculosis-infected DBA/2 mice died with a much shorter median survival time (MST) than M. tuberculosis-infected BALB/c mice. By contrast, infection with M. bovis killed mice of both strains with the same and much shorter MST. Unexpectedly, M. bovis caused progressive infection and pathology in the livers of BALB/c mice, but not in this organ in DBA/2 mice. More importantly, this pathogen caused progressive infection and infection-induced pathology in the kidneys and adrenal glands of both strains of mice. It is proposed that disease of the adrenal glands might serve to explain why M. bovis caused mice of both strains to die with the same much shorter MST.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Gland Diseases / microbiology*
  • Animals
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred DBA
  • Mycobacterium bovis / pathogenicity*
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / pathogenicity*
  • Tuberculosis, Hepatic / microbiology
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / microbiology*
  • Tuberculosis, Renal / microbiology*
  • Tuberculosis, Splenic / microbiology
  • Virulence