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Immunocompromised patients are more susceptible to recurrent non-typhoidal Salmonella (NTS) bacteremia. A key manifestation of HIV infection is the loss of CD4 T cells, which are crucial for immunity to Salmonella infection. We characterized the consequences of CD4 T cell depletion in mice where virulent Salmonella establish chronic infection, similar to chronic NTS disease in humans. Salmonella-infected, CD4-depleted 129X1/SvJ mice remained chronically colonized for at least 5 weeks, displaying increased splenomegaly and more severe splenitis than infected mice with CD4 T cells. Mature erythrocytes, immature erythroid cells and phagocytes accounted for the largest increase in splenic cellularity. Anemia, which is associated with increased mortality in Salmonella-infected humans, was exacerbated by CD4 depletion in infected mice and was accompanied by increased splenic sequestration of erythrocytes and fewer erythropoietic elements in the bone marrow, despite significantly elevated levels of circulating erythropoietin. Splenic sequestration of red blood cells, the appearance of circulating poikilocytes, and elevated pro-inflammatory cytokines suggest inflammation-induced damage to erythrocytes contributes to anemia and splenic retention of damaged cells in infected animals. Depleting CD4 T cells led to increased myeloid cells in peripheral blood, spleen and bone marrow, as well as expansion of CD8 T cells, which has been observed in CD4-depleted humans. This work describes a mouse model of Salmonella infection that recapitulates several aspects of human disease and will allow us to investigate the interplay of innate and adaptive immune functions with chronic inflammation, anemia and susceptibility to Salmonella infection.
Click here to read the article, published in American Society for Microbiology.