Scrub Typhus: The Geographic Distribution of Phenotypic and Genotypic Variants of Orientia tsutsugamushi

Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.
Clinical Infectious Diseases (Impact Factor: 9.42). 04/2009; 48 Suppl 3:S203-30. DOI: 10.1086/596576
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Orientia tsutsugamushi is the etiological agent of scrub typhus, an acute, mite-borne, febrile illness that occurs in the Asia-Pacific region. Historically, strain characterization used serological analysis and revealed dramatic antigenic diversity. Eyeing a recommendation of potential vaccine candidates for broad protection, we review geographic diversity and serological and DNA prevalences. DNA analysis together with immunological analysis suggest that the prototype Karp strain and closely related strains are the most common throughout the region of endemicity. According to serological analysis, approximately 50% of isolates are seroreactive to Karp antisera, and approximately one-quarter of isolates are seroreactive to antisera against the prototype Gilliam strain. Molecular methods reveal greater diversity. By molecular methods, strains phylogenetically similar to Karp make up approximately 40% of all genotyped isolates, followed by the JG genotype group (Japan strains serotypically similar to the Gilliam strain but genetically non-Gilliam; 18% of all genotyped isolates). Three other genotype groups (Kato-related, Kawasaki-like, and TA763-like) each represent approximately 10% of genotyped isolates. Strains genetically similar to the Gilliam strain make up only 5% of isolates. Strains from these groups should be included in any potential vaccine.

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    ABSTRACT: We developed an intradermal (ID) challenge cynomolgus macaque (Macaca fascicularis) model of scrub typhus, the leading cause of treatable undifferentiated febrile illness in tropical Asia, caused by the obligate intracellular bacterium, Orientia tsutsugamushi. A well-characterized animal model is required for the development of clinically relevant diagnostic assays and evaluation of therapeutic agents and candidate vaccines. We investigated scrub typhus disease pathophysiology and evaluated two O. tsutsugamushi 47-kDa, Ag-based candidate vaccines, a DNA plasmid vaccine (pKarp47), and a virus-vectored vaccine (Kp47/47-Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus replicon particle) for safety, immunogenicity, and efficacy against homologous ID challenge with O. tsutsugamushi Karp. Control cynomolgus macaques developed fever, classic eschars, lymphadenopathy, bacteremia, altered liver function, increased WBC counts, pathogen-specific Ab (IgM and IgG), and cell-mediated immune responses. Vaccinated macaques receiving the DNA plasmid pKarp47 vaccine had significantly increased O. tsutsugamushi-specific, IFN-γ-producing PBMCs (p = 0.04), reduced eschar frequency and bacteremia duration (p ≤ 0.01), delayed bacteremia onset (p < 0.05), reduced circulating bacterial biomass (p = 0.01), and greater reduction of liver transaminase levels (p < 0.03) than controls. This study demonstrates a vaccine-induced immune response capable of conferring sterile immunity against high-dose homologous ID challenge of O. tsutsugamushi in a nonhuman primate model, and it provides insight into cell-mediated immune control of O. tsutsugamushi and dissemination dynamics, highlights the importance of bacteremia indices for evaluation of both natural and vaccine-induced immune responses, and importantly, to our knowledge, has determined the first phenotypic correlates of immune protection in scrub typhus. We conclude that this model is suitable for detailed investigations into vaccine-induced immune responses and correlates of immunity for scrub typhus. Copyright © 2015 The Authors.
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