Individuals respond differently to infectious diseases. Even among inbred mice that are presumed to be genetically identical, the response to a microbial pathogen is variable, which is generally thought to reflect experimental inconsistencies, technical errors, and stochastic processes. Here we describe the remarkable observation that the variability of Helicobacter pylori colonization density in the stomachs of experimentally infected C57BL/6J mice is tightly correlated with weight loss and viral load after a challenge with influenza virus, though H. pylori infection per se does not affect influenza and vice versa. Since these two infectious agents are found in different tissue compartments and are detected using unrelated methods, the correlation in microbial burden must represent a biological measure of disease susceptibility among genetically nearly identical individuals and not technical or stochastic factors. We hypothesize that inbred mice represent a powerful new tool for the identification of biomarkers to predict the outcome of infectious diseases.
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