Anthrax Pathogenesis and Host Response

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Abstract

Anthrax has been both a scourge and a fundamental model for infectious disease studies for over a century. Death associated with systemic anthrax is mimicked in animals challenged with anthrax lethal toxin, a virulence factor believed to affect only macrophages. Animals depleted of macrophages become resistant to the toxin, while reintroduction of cultured macrophages into depleted animals restores sensitivity. These studies and others implicate an active role for the innate immune system in the demise of the anthrax victim. Many of the molecular factors and events in the cascade of lethal events during anthrax infections have now been identified. Other recent overviews of anthrax pathogenesis and toxins include those by Stephen (1986), Friedlander (1990), Leppla (1995), and Hanna and Collier (1997).