Klebsiella pneumoniae is a Gram-negative, opportunistic pathogen that commonly causes nosocomial pneumonia, urinary tract infection, and septicemia. Our recent work utilizing a murine model of respiratory tract infection with classical K. pneumoniae demonstrated leukocyte aggregates in the lungs of mice at 28 days postinfection. Here, we sought to characterize the composition and development of these structures. Histopathological analyses of murine lungs revealed immune cell clusters surrounding the pulmonary vasculature and airways by 14 days postinfection, resembling inducible bronchus-associated lymphoid tissue (iBALT). Further investigation of these structures demonstrated central B cell aggregates with concomitant dispersed T cells. At day 28 postinfection, these lymphoid clusters expressed germinal center markers and CXCL12, qualifying these structures as iBALT with nonclassical B cell follicles. Investigations in mutant mice revealed that those lacking B and/or T cells were not able to form fully defined iBALT structures, although some rudimentary B cell clusters were identified in mice lacking T cells. The longevity of K. pneumoniae-induced BALT was assessed for up to 120 days postinfection. Lymphoid aggregates significantly decreased in size and quantity by 90 days after K. pneumoniae infection; however, aggregates persisted in mice that were restimulated with K. pneumoniae every 30 days. Finally, infections of mice with an array of classical K. pneumoniae clinical isolates demonstrated that the development of these structures is a common feature of K. pneumoniae lung infection. Together, these data confirm that murine lungs infected with K. pneumoniae develop iBALT, which may play a role in pulmonary immunity to this troublesome pathogen.
- B cells
- Induced bronchus-associated lymphoid tissue
- Klebsiella pneumoniae
- T cells