The mechanisms of abortion and sterility induced by bacterial infection are largely unknown. In the present study, we found that Brucella abortus, a causative agent of brucellosis and facultative intracellular pathogen, caused sterility in pregnant mice. We have recently established a mouse model for abortion induced by B. abortus infection and high rates of abortion are observed for bacterial infection on day 4.5 of gestation, but not for other days. Infected newborn (first generation) mice showed poor growth compared with uninfected newborn mice and bacterial replication in the spleen of the former was observed over a long period. When infected first generation female mice were mated to infected first generation male mice, the number of fetuses was significantly less than that in uninfected first generation mice. These infected second generation mice also showed poor growth. These results suggest that vertical transmission of B. abostus causes sterility in pregnant mice and our mouse model would be useful for the investigating of brucellosis.
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