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    Eighteen species of rickettsiae are reported to cause infections in humans. One of these is Rickettsia helvetica, which is endemic in European and Asian countries and transmitted by the tick Ixodes ricinus. Besides fever, it has been demonstrated to cause meningitis and is also associated with perimyocarditis. One of the initial targets for rickettsiae after inoculation by ticks is the macrophage/monocyte. How rickettsiae remain in the macrophages/monocytes before establishing their infection in vascular endothelial cells remains poorly understood. The main aim of the present study was to investigate the impact on and survival of R. helvetica in a human leukemic monocytic cell line, THP-1. Our results show that R. helvetica survives and propagates in the THP-1 cells. The infection in monocytes was followed for seven days by qPCR and for 30 days by TEM, where invasion of the nucleus was also observed as well as double membrane vacuoles containing rickettsiae, a finding suggesting that R. helvetica might induce autophagy at the early stage of infection. Infected monocytes induced TNF-α which may be important in host defence against rickettsial infections and promote cell survival and inhibiting cell death by apoptosis. The present findings illustrate the importance of monocytes to the pathogenesis of rickettsial disease. Copyright © 2021 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Masson SAS.. All rights reserved.


    Carl Påhlson, Xi Lu, Marjam Ott, Kenneth Nilsson. Characteristics of in vitro infection of human monocytes, by Rickettsia helvetica. Microbes and infection. 2021 Mar-Apr;23(2-3):104776

    PMID: 33276122

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