In order to examine several factors that may affect the course and severity of transnasally induced pneumonia in mice, bacteria were prepared in a free suspension or bound to fetal mouse cells. Immunosuppression was induced in five strains of mice (ICR, C57BL/6, BALB/c, C3H/He and CBA/J) by injection of cyclophosphamide (200 mg/kg body weight), 2 days before infection. Impairment of mucociliary clearance was induced by intranasal instillation of formalin. Mice were then infected with various doses and strains of the organism. Although no significant differences were observed between either form of inoculum, pretreatment with formalin plus cyclophosphamide was associated with a significant increase in lung bacterial counts. In particular, cyclophosphamide treatment was associated with a high mortality in mice infected with several strains of irrespective of their toxin production profiles. Histopathological examination demonstrated that in mice treated with formalin plus cyclophosphamide, clusters of bacteria were observed in lung parenchyma, associated with a mild accumulation of inflammatory cells at day 2 and extensive cell infiltration at day 7. CBA/J mice represented the most susceptible strain among those examined, with 10- and 10-fold higher bacterial counts in the lungs at days 3 and 5, respectively. These results indicate that neutropenia and impaired mucociliary clearance are major factors that influence the severity of pneumonia in mice. Analysis of the role of genetic background in enhancement of vulnerability to infection is warranted in future studies.


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