Background: Tuberculosis, the disease due to Mycobacterium tuberculosis, is an important cause of morbidity and mortality in the elderly. Use of mouse models may accelerate insight into the disease and tests of therapies since mice age thirty times faster than humans. However, the majority of TB research relies on inbred mouse strains, and these results might not extrapolate well to the genetically diverse human population. We report here the first tests of M. tuberculosis infection in genetically heterogeneous aging mice, testing if old mice benefit from rapamycin.
Findings: We find that genetically diverse aging mice are much more susceptible than young mice to M. tuberculosis, as are aging human beings. We also find that rapamycin boosts immune responses during primary infection but fails to increase survival.
Conclusions: Genetically diverse mouse models provide a valuable resource to study how age influences responses and susceptibility to pathogens and to test interventions. Additionally, surrogate markers such as immune measures may not predict whether interventions improve survival.
Keywords: DO; Diversity outbred; Early Secreted Antigenic Target-6 (ESAT-6); Genetically diverse population; HET3; Rapamycin; Tuberculosis.