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Outbreaks of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia in colonies of immunodeficient mice.

Publication Date
  • Research Article
  • Biology
  • Medicine


Outbreaks of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia occurred in colonies of nu/nu and scid/scid mice at four different institutions. The disease, which was characterized by chronic wasting and respiratory insufficiency, was more severe in older mice and in animals housed in cages with special protective tops. Histopathologic features included alveolar filling with the typical foamy honeycomb material and a mild, nonspecific host inflammatory response. Immunofluorescence and immunoblotting studies suggested the P. carinii isolate was of mouse rather than of rat or human origin, and the outbreaks could be related to each other by common vendor or source of breeding animals. Once P. carinii became established in a mouse colony, the organism tended to persist for long periods of time. The principal control measure was depopulation of the colony, although limited experience with the administration of trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole was encouraging. Thus, outbreaks of pneumocystosis are a serious problem among colonies of immunodeficient mice, with important implications for the use of these animals in biomedical research. Data obtained by studying these outbreaks should enhance understanding of the pathogenesis of P. carinii pneumonia and be helpful in formulating improved methods of detection and control.

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