Salmonella Typhimurium is one of the most common causes of
food-borne disease in the United States and often causes a self-limiting
gastrointestinal (GI) infection. However, in people with impaired
immune responses, Salmonella Typhimurium can cause severe
systemic infections, spreading through the blood to other organs.
In some cases, the bacteria spread to the CNS, causing meningitis. People at risk include the very young and the elderly, people with advanced HIV/AIDS, and those with sickle cell disease. Salmonella meningitis, which was rare globally, is now one of the most common forms of bacterial meningitis in parts of Africa and has a high case fatality rate.
National Institutes of Health (NIH) scientists have established in mice a way to study potentially life-threatening meningitis caused by Salmonella. Bacterial meningitis happens when bacteria infect the central nervous system (CNS), causing a serious disease that can be life-threatening and difficult to diagnose and treat. Patients who survive often have permanent brain damage.
Collaborators include Salmonella and neuroimmunology experts at NIAID's Rocky Mountain Laboratories and biologists at the University of Colorado. They plan to use the model to determine how Salmonella Typhimurium infects and causes damage in the brain, including which immune cells are involved. They also will use the model to study potential treatments to prevent Salmonella from gaining access to the CNS or limiting the damage during meningitis.