In our previous study, complete protection was observed in Chinese-origin rhesus macaques immunized with SV1 (20 µg F1 and 10 µg rV270) and SV2 (200 µg F1 and 100 µg rV270) subunit vaccines and with EV76 live attenuated vaccine against subcutaneous challenge with 6×106 CFU of Y. pestis. In the present study, we investigated whether the vaccines can effectively protect immunized animals from any pathologic changes using histological and immunohistochemical techniques. In addition, the glomerular basement membranes (GBMs) of the immunized animals and control animals were checked by electron microscopy. The results show no signs of histopathological lesions in the lungs, livers, kidneys, lymph nodes, spleens and hearts of the immunized animals at Day 14 after the challenge, whereas pathological alterations were seen in the corresponding tissues of the control animals. Giemsa staining, ultrastructural examination, and immunohistochemical staining revealed bacteria in some of the organs of the control animals, whereas no bacterium was observed among the immunized animals. Ultrastructural observation revealed that no glomerular immune deposits on the GBM. These observations suggest that the vaccines can effectively protect animals from any pathologic changes and eliminate Y. pestis from the immunized animals. The control animals died from multi-organ lesions specifically caused by the Y. pestis infection. We also found that subcutaneous infection of animals with Y. pestis results in bubonic plague, followed by pneumonic and septicemic plagues. The histopathologic features of plague in rhesus macaques closely resemble those of rodent and human plagues. Thus, Chinese-origin rhesus macaques serve as useful models in studying Y. pestis pathogenesis, host response and the efficacy of new medical countermeasures against plague
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