A previous study demonstrated that a highly virulent strain of Streptococcus gallolyticus subsp. pasteurianus, designated as the AL101002 strain, induced high mortality in ducklings with splenic lesions. In this study, 42 ducklings were subcutaneously inoculated with the AL101002 strain to study changes in splenic lesions over time. The spleens from these ducklings were significantly enlarged by congestion and edema, and/or showed multiple marbled areas 14 days postinoculation (dpi). The AL101002 strain was reisolated from the spleens and blood and confirmed by immunohistochemistry (IHC) with the use of anti-AL101002 antibody. Histopathologically, the main lesion was macrophage necrosis in the spleens from 1 to 7 dpi. Terminal dUTP nick-end labeling assay, transmission electron microscopy, and IHC by anti-macrosialin antibody (CD68) demonstrated that macrophage necrosis was necroptosis, which was further confirmed by quantitative (real-time) reverse-transcriptase PCR analysis. Two major factors of apoptosis, caspase 3 and caspase 8, did not significantly change during the AL101002 infection, suggesting that apoptosis signals were not activated. However, the key factor mixed lineage kinase like was increased significantly (P < 0.05) from Day 1 to Day 14 dpi. Inflammatory cytokine interleukin-1β and interleukin-6 had significantly (P < 0.01) upregulated expression in the spleens on Day 1 dpi. Tumor necrosis factor α was downregulated from Day 1 to Day 5 dpi, but increased from Day 7 to Day 14. Our results demonstrated that AL101002 strain mainly infects macrophages and resulted in macrophage necroptosis and suggested that macrophage necroptosis in spleens is involved in the pathogenesis of S. gallolyticus subsp. pasteurianus infection in ducklings.
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Vol. 61 • No. 1