My laboratory is involved in defining the pathogenic mechanisms by which mycoplasmas cause both respiratory and urogenital infections. We work with a number of host species, including rodents, food and fiber animals, reptiles, and humans.
Emerging mycoplasmal infections in reptiles Recently we have been involved in the elucidation of the etiologic agent, characterization of clinical disease, and diagnosis of respiratory mycoplasmosis in two environmentally threatened species of tortoise and in American alligators. In experimental transmission studies designed to fulfill Koch’s postulates, we demonstrated that Mycoplasma agassizii was the etiologic agent of upper respiratory tract disease (URTD) in both gopher and desert tortoises and that Mycoplasma alligatoris caused a septic lethal infection in alligators. We have developed serological diagnostic tests (ELISA) as well as a PCR based diagnostic tests to allow epidemiological surveys of large natural populations. We have ongoing investigations into mechanisms of transmission and pathogenesis of these infections.
Recurrent urinary tract infection in women Urinary tract infections (UTI) represent a significant medical problem for women. The major infectious agents associated with UTI are Gram negative aerobic rods (primarily Escherichia coli) and Staphylococcus saprophyticus. However, as many as one third of women seen with clinical signs of UTI (dysuria, frequency, and urgency) are considered to have UTI which is “abacterial” in origin. Although the evidence for involvement of Ureaplasma urealyticum in nongonococcal urethritis and prostatitis in men is compelling, few studies have addressed the role of this microorganism in UTI in women. This prospective study will follow women from the onset of a clinical episode of UTI over a minimum one year period including periods of quiescence as well as any subsequent UTI. The overall objective of this project is determine the role of U. urealyticum both as an etiologic agent of UTI in women and as a potential risk factor for establishment of susceptibility to recurrent and chronic urinary tract infection.
Models of Intrauterine Infection Microbial infections of the chorioamnion and amniotic fluid have devastating effects on pregnancy outcome. Genital mycoplasmosis is a naturally occurring disease of rats that makes it ideally suited as a model to study the adverse effects of infectious agents in pregnancy as well as the immunomodulatory effects of infectious agents and their impact on reproductive function. We have demonstrated that M. pulmonis causes an ascending infection in Sprague Dawley rats which is characterized by placentitis and chorioamnionitis and results in significant fetal wastage and decreased birth weight. It is our hypothesis that an infectious agent could trigger host responses which have deleterious effects on pregnancy maintenance by altering the normal cytokine levels secreted for pregnancy regulation.
Mycoplasmosis in food and fiber animals Our laboratory is studying the role of an extracellular protease produced by Mycoplasma mycoides in virulence of mycoplasmal infections of goats. In addition, we have ongoing studies to elucidate the pathogenic mechanisms of M. bovis infections of dairy calves.
Tortoise Mycoplasma Testing More information about our lab’s Tortoise Mycoplasma Testing service can be found on the College’s Diagnostics Laboratory web-page.