The pathogenicity ofNocardia caviae, N. asteroides andN. brasiliensis has been tested for white mice, guinea pigs and rabbits and chorio-allantoic membrane of the developing chick embryo. Altogether, 14 strains belonging to the 3Nocardia species originating from soil, human and animal sources in India or abroad were tested. All of them proved pathogenic though the degree of virulence varied from strain to strain. Incorporation of hog gastric mucin in the inoculum enhanced the virulence of all the 3Nocardia species for white mice.N. caviae strains were uniformly more virulent than those ofN. asteroides andN. brasiliensis.
In the white mice inoculated intraperitoneally, a greater dissemination of the disease was apparent withN. caviae than withN. asteroides. Of the 6 strains ofN. caviae tested, 5 disseminated to the lung, 3 to the heart and 2 to the brain. InN. asteroides dissemination of the disease to the brain was observed with 2 of its 3 strains.N. brasiliensis showed no dissemination.N. caviae was found to be equally virulent for white mice, guinea pigs and rabbits. On the other hand,N. asteroides andN. brasiliensis were more virulent for white mice than for guinea pigs and rabbits. The lesions caused byN. caviae in mice, guinea pigs and rabbits persisted up to 4 weeks. In strong contrast to this the lesions due toN. asteroides andN. brasiliensis found in the guinea pigs and rabbits showed a strong tendency towards spontaneous clearance.
Histologically, the lesions caused byN. caviae, N. asteroides andN. brasiliensis in mice, guinea pigs and rabbits were in the form of abscesses which showed an acute or chronic reaction. In the case ofN. caviae these abscesses showed both granules and freely dispersed cocco-bacillary bodies or filaments. As forN. asteroides it occurred in the form of cocco-bacillary bodies or filaments whereasN. brasiliensis consistently produced granules in the lesions.
The lesions caused by the 3Nocardia species on the chorio-allantoic membrane of the developing chick embryo were in the form of abscesses which contained cocco-bacillary bodies and branching filaments but no granules.