Pathogenic brucellae replicate in human trophoblasts

J Infect Dis. 2013 Apr;207(7):1075-83. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jit007. Epub 2013 Jan 9.


Brucellae replicate in a vacuole derived from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) in epithelial cells, macrophages, and dendritic cells. In animals, trophoblasts are also key cellular targets where brucellae efficiently replicate in association with the ER. Therefore, we investigated the ability of Brucella spp. to infect human trophoblasts using both immortalized and primary trophoblasts. Brucella extensively proliferated within different subpopulations of trophoblasts, suggesting that they constitute an important niche in cases where the fetal-maternal barrier is breached. In extravillous trophoblasts (EVTs), B. abortus and B. suis replicated within single-membrane acidic lysosomal membrane-associated protein 1-positive inclusions, whereas B. melitensis replicated in the ER-derived compartment. Furthermore, B. melitensis but not B. abortus nor B. suis interfered with the invasive capacity of EVT-like cells in vitro. Because EVTs are essential for implantation during early stages of pregnancy, the nature of the replication niche may have a central role during Brucella-associated abortion in infected women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Autophagy
  • Bacterial Load
  • Brucella abortus / growth & development*
  • Brucella abortus / metabolism
  • Brucella abortus / pathogenicity
  • Brucella melitensis / growth & development
  • Brucella melitensis / metabolism
  • Brucella melitensis / pathogenicity
  • Brucella suis / growth & development*
  • Brucella suis / metabolism
  • Brucella suis / pathogenicity
  • Brucellosis / microbiology
  • Brucellosis / pathology
  • Calnexin / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lysosome-Associated Membrane Glycoproteins / metabolism
  • Microbial Viability
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Placenta / metabolism
  • Placenta / microbiology
  • Placenta / pathology
  • Pregnancy
  • Tetraspanin 30 / metabolism
  • Trophoblasts / metabolism
  • Trophoblasts / microbiology*
  • Trophoblasts / pathology


  • CD63 protein, human
  • LAMP1 protein, human
  • Lysosome-Associated Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Tetraspanin 30
  • Calnexin