Human brucellosis is a common zoonosis worldwide. Here we present a case of focal vertebral brucellosis in a 71-year-old Mexican-American woman who contracted infection from unpasteurized goat milk. Standard agglutination serology was negative; the diagnosis was established by the isolation of Brucella melitensis from abscess fluid. A B. melitensis protein microarray comprised of nearly all proteins encoded by the bacterial genome was used to determine the kinetics of this patient's antibody responses to the complete collection of open reading frames existing in the genome (ORFeome). Three patterns of antibody responses against B. melitensis antigens were seen for serum samples obtained on days 0 (pretreatment), 14, 49, 100, and 180: (i) stable titers over time, (ii) a steady fall in titers, and (iii) an initial rise in titers followed by declining titers. Sera from this patient with chronic brucellosis recognized some of the same B. melitensis proteins as those recognized by sera from acute/subacute, blood culture-positive brucellosis patients but also recognized a distinct set of proteins. This study is the first to determine the kinetics of the human antibody responses to the complete repertoire of proteins encoded by a bacterial genome and demonstrates fundamentally different immunopathogenetic mechanisms between acute human brucellosis and chronic human brucellosis. While an extension of these findings to a larger patient population is necessary, these findings have important clinical and diagnostic implications and lead toward new insights into the fundamental immunopathogenesis of brucellosis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Microbiology (medical)