Adult Sprague-Dawley rats infected intrabronchially with strain 18–323 encased in agarose beads (BP-beads), developed a paroxysmal cough and leucocytosis, both of which peaked at around day 10. When animals were exposed to ether for 2 min after delivery of the beads, there was an enhancement of the number of subsequent coughing episodes. Inclusion of carrageenan in the beads also enhanced coughing. Control rats, given sterile beads or left untreated, showed only a low level of coughing or no coughing, depending upon their source. Rats challenged by the same route with heat-killed in beads, or with live organisms in suspension (without beads) showed no cough induction or leucocytosis. However, intranasal delivery of suspension gave rise to a moderate amount of coughing and leucocytosis. Serum IgG responses to antigens were greatest in rats infected with BP-beads and antibodies against both pertussis toxin and filamentous haemagglutinin were detected. Since the rat is the only conveniently accessible laboratory animal species in which induces an intermittent paroxysmal cough, as in man, it merits further study for determining the mechanisms of pathogenesis and immunity in pertussis.


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