A pregnant mouse model for bovine Tritrichomonas foetus infection

D. W. Agnew, L. B. Corbeil, L. Munson, Barbara A Byrne, Robert Bondurant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The economically important effects of Tritrichomonas foetus infection in cattle are abortion and infertility, yet there has not been an animal model to examine the parasite-host interactions during gestation. In this study, 5- and 7- to 8-week-old BALB/cAnNCr, BALB/cJ, and SCID/NCr mice on a BALB/c background were intravaginally infected with T. foetus. All BALB/ cAnNCr and BALB/cJ mice, and 89% of SCID/NCr mice sustained infections for 13 weeks, if inoculated before 5 weeks of age. Infection rates were lower in all mouse strains inoculated at 7 weeks of age, although BALB/cAnNCr mice were significantly more susceptible than BALB/cJ or SCID/ NCr mice. Vaginal bacterial flora did not account for the variation in mouse-strain susceptibility, although coagulase-negative staphylococci in vaginal flora were associated with failure of T. foetus to infect. As with infected cattle, T. foetus-specific vaginal immunoglobulin (Ig) G and IgA antibodies were elevated after infection. The number and viability of day-10 fetuses were reduced in mice infected at 5 weeks of age and bred 12 weeks after infection. Lesions in pregnant and nonpregnant infected mice, including suppurative and eosinophilic vaginitis; cervicitis; endometritis with distension of the uterine lumen; endometrial ulceration; and glandular ectasia, with neutrophils in the glandular lumen and loss of gland epithelium, were similar to those in cattle. The decidua and placenta were multifocally necrotic. Immunohistochemistry demonstrated trichomonads in vaginal folds and uterine glands, and adjacent to fetal tissues. In summary, experimentally infected BALB/cAnNCr mice showed many pathologic similarities to cattle and may serve as a model to study host-trichomonad interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)849-864
Number of pages16
JournalVeterinary Pathology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2008


  • Cattle diseases
  • Disease model
  • Mice
  • Pregnancy
  • Tritrichomonas foetus
  • Uterus
  • Vagina

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


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