As in vitro culture systems allowing to isolate Pneumocystis samples from patients or other mammal hosts are still not available, animal models have critical importance in Pneumocystis research. The parasite was reported in numerous mammals but P. carinii pneumonia (PCP) experimental models were essentially developed by using rats, mice, rabbits and ferrets. The rat treated with corticosteroids for 9-12 weeks is a useful PCP model. Like laboratory rats, conventional mice develop PCP after prolonged corticosteroid administration. The ferret (Mustela putorius furo) also develop PCP under corticosteroid regime. Whilst bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) is really difficult to perform on live laboratory rodents, serial BAL sampling can be performed on live ferrets. Rabbits currently develop spontaneous PCP at weaning without corticosteroid administration. For this reason this model has been used for studying the host immune response as well as Pneumocystis-surfactant interactions. Pigs and horses also develop spontaneous PCP. Treated with corticosteroids, piglets develop extensive PCP and could be used as a non-rodent model. Pneumocystis was detected in many non-human primates. Primates could represent a source of parasites taxonomically related to P. carinii sp. f hominis. Moreover, primates might be used as experimental hosts to human Pneumocystis. A marked variability of parasite levels among corticosteroid-treated animals and the fact that the origin of the parasite strain remains unknown, are important drawbacks of the corticosteroid-treated models. For these reasons, inoculated animal models of PCP were developed. The intratracheal inoculation of lung homogenates containing viable parasites in corticosteroid-treated non-latently infected rats resulted in extensive, reproducible Pneumocystis infections. Extensive PCP can be obtained within 5-7 weeks, whilst 9-12 weeks are needed in the classical model. The severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) mouse inoculated by nasal route and the athymic nude rats intratracheally inoculated were used to test the infectivity of Pneumocystis samples coming from cultures or from different hosts. They were also used to test the anti-Pneumocystis activity of antimicrobial molecules.
- nasal inoculation
- in vivo model
- intratracheal inoculation
- severe combined immunodeficiency mouse
- nude rat