Deposition pattern of aerosolized Legionella using an ex vivo human-porcine respiratory model

Abstract : Legionella are bacteria responsible for severe lung pathologies. However how they enter and are deposited within the respiratory tract remains poorly documented. Data using animal testing led to the establishment of mathematical models allowing the estimation of aerosol dispersion risks. But direct extrapolation to humans is questionable and experimental models more physiologically representative of the inhalation route are welcome. The aim of this study was to develop a model as close as possible to the human anatomy and physiology allowing determining the deposition pattern of aerosolized Legionella while limiting in vivo experiments. To that purpose, we adapted the chimeric respiratory tract model we previously developed. This original model consisted of a replica of the human upper respiratory airways made by additive manufacturing connected to ex vivo porcine lungs ventilated by passive expansion, as for humans in physiological conditions. These experiments didn’t imply specific animal sacrifices as pigs were bred for human consumption and lungs were considered as wastes by the slaughterhouse. Fluorescent Legionella were aerosolized and visualized using Cellvizio Lab (probe-based confocal fluorescence microscope). Legionella were found in the whole respiratory tract. Broncho-alveolar lavages were also performed and the amount of Legionella reaching the thoracic region was quantified by culture and qPCR. Legionella were found preferentially in the left upper lobe compared to the right lower lobe. To our knowledge, it is the first time that experiments mimicking so closely human exposure by inhalation are performed while limiting animal experiments and providing a model for further Legionella infectious risk assessment.
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Sophie Perinel, Valérie Forest, Mathilde Landraud, Jérémie Pourchez, Françoise Girardot, et al.. Deposition pattern of aerosolized Legionella using an ex vivo human-porcine respiratory model. International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, Elsevier, 2018, 221 (2), pp.252-259. ⟨10.1016/j.ijheh.2017.11.002⟩. ⟨hal-01690771⟩

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