Survival of the fittest: how Brucella strains adapt to their intracellular niche in the host
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Brucella strains produce abortion and infertility in their natural hosts and a zoonotic disease in humans known as undulant fever. These bacteria do not produce classical virulence factors, and their capacity to successfully survive and replicate within a variety of host cells underlies their pathogenicity. Extensive replication of the brucellae in placental trophoblasts is associated with reproductive tract pathology in natural hosts, and prolonged persistence in macrophages leads to the chronic infections that are a hallmark of brucellosis in both natural hosts and humans. This review describes how Brucella strains have efficiently adapted to their intracellular lifestyle in the host.