Colonic spirochetosis of colony-raised rhesus macaques associated with Brachyspira and Helicobacter

G. E. Duhamel, C. J. Stryker, G. Lu, V. J. Wong, R. P. Tarara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Colonic spirochetosis is an inflammatory bowel disease that affects a broad range of hosts, including human and non-human primates. The disease in humans and non-human primates is characterized by intimate attachment of the anaerobic spirochetes Brachyspira aalborgi and B. pilosicoli, and some unclassified flagellated microbes along the apical membrane of colonic enterocytes. Although the presence of spiral-shaped bacteria with single polar flagella and blunted ends in colonic spirochetosis is well established, the identities of many of these organisms is still unknown. Recently, Helicobacter species with a morphology similar to the flagellated bacteria present in colonic spirochetosis have been cultured from intestinal specimens obtained from rhesus macaques, some with idiopathic colitis. The purpose of the present study was to determine whether or not the flagellated bacteria seen in the colons of rhesus macaques with colonic spirochetosis are Helicobacter. The presence of flagellated bacteria alone (n=2) or together with spirochetes (n=1) in formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded colons of three rhesus macaques with the naturally occurring disease was demonstrated by immunohistochemical staining and ultrastructural examination. Total DNA extracted from affected and control intestinal specimens was amplified by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) using Helicobacter 16S rRNA gene-specific primers. Comparative nucleotide sequence analysis of PCR products cloned from positive reactions indicated that two distinct Helicobacter genomospecies were present either alone or in combination with Brachyspira in the colons of rhesus macaques with microscopic lesions indicative of colonic spirochetosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-55
Number of pages11
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2003


  • Brachyspira
  • Colitis
  • Helicobacter
  • Polymicrobial
  • Spirochetosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Infectious Diseases


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