Tuberculosis currently afflicts nearly one-third of the world's population, but progress in development of interventions is hamstrung by the slow growth rate of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent, and the need to evaluate viability by colony forming units (cfu). The proposed study is designed to overcome this major roadblock through the development and validation of imaging technologies that can be applied to evaluation of novel prevention and treatment strategies for tuberculosis. Our previous studies have resulted in development of both fluorescent and bioluminescent imaging strategies for tuberculosis, but the most sensitive of these has proven to be reporter enzyme fluorescence (REF), which has a detection threshold of approximately 104 cfu during pulmonary infection. We have also shown that REF imaging allows therapeutic evaluation within 24-48 h post-treatment both in vitro and in animals. This work has set the foundation for the proposed studies designed to allow application of REF imaging to therapeutic efficacy determination, tracking Mtb infections in animals and analysis of vaccination strategies for tuberculosis. We have demonstrated the ability of imaging to quantify and track both pulmonary and subcutaneous infections, offering the unique opportunity to track both vaccination and challenge doses for tuberculosis, which has not been previously feasible, particularly in real-time using live animals. In the current study, we will build upon our earlier studies by testing the ability of REF imaging to evaluate efficacy of a diverse set of therapeutics, improvement of the current REF imaging threshold of detection and demonstrate the utility of imaging study of vaccine efficacy. Specifically, we propose to: 1) Improve REF imaging to facilitate tuberculosis research. Our working hypothesis is that the catalytic nature of REF imaging will allow this technology to achieve thresholds of 10 cfu per organ, sufficient for analysis of tuberculosis virulence and therapeutics. Our preliminary studies demonstrate that REF imaging is very sensitive, imaging can be used to measure therapeutic outcome and that there is potential to improve existing REF substrates. In this aim we will compare therapeutic efficacy evaluation for imaging with cfu, analyze and improve substrates for thresholds of detection and carefully evaluate our ability to accurately track Mtb infection in animal models. 2) Analyze vaccine efficacy against tuberculosis using imaging. Our working hypothesis is that the combination of micro-endoscopy and REF will allow us to evaluate tuberculosis vaccine efficacy more rapidly and in more detail than conventional cfu-based methods. Our preliminary studies demonstrate that we can utilize micro- endoscopic imaging to follow sub-cutaneous inoculation with reporter strains of the vaccine and REF imaging for pulmonary infection with Mtb. In this aim we will construct stable reporter vaccine strains and use them to follow both the vaccination and challenge dose throughout vaccination in mice and guinea pigs to better understand the live vaccine and challenge dose viability dynamics during vaccination.

Public Health Relevance

Tuberculosis represents one of the most frequent causes of death and illness in humans worldwide. Drug resistance is prevalent throughout the world, making it critical that rapid screening strategies are developed for therapeutics. This project is geared toward development and validation of a breakthrough imaging technology that can be used to replace current technologies to measure bacterial viability and facilitate development of novel therapeutics and vaccines as well as study of tuberculosis disease processes.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Clinical Molecular Imaging and Probe Development (CMIP)
Program Officer
Lacourciere, Karen A
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Texas A&M University
Schools of Medicine
College Station
United States
Zip Code
Durkee, Madeleine S; Nooshabadi, Fatemeh; Cirillo, Jeffrey D et al. (2018) Optical model of the murine lung to optimize pulmonary illumination. J Biomed Opt 23:1-12
Durkee, Madeleine S; Fletcher, Grace K; Carlson, Camella et al. (2018) Light scattering by pulmonary alveoli and airway surface liquid using a concentric sphere model. Opt Lett 43:5001-5004
Durkee, Madeleine S; Nash, Landon D; Nooshabadi, Fatemeh et al. (2018) Fabrication and Characterization of Optical Tissue Phantoms Containing Macrostructure. J Vis Exp :
Nooshabadi, Fatemeh; Yang, Hee-Jeong; Cheng, Yunfeng et al. (2017) Intravital excitation increases detection sensitivity for pulmonary tuberculosis by whole-body imaging with ?-lactamase reporter enzyme fluorescence. J Biophotonics 10:821-829
Yang, Hee-Jeong; Kong, Ying; Cheng, Yunfeng et al. (2017) Real-time Imaging of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Using a Novel Near-Infrared Fluorescent Substrate. J Infect Dis 215:405-414
Smith, Ryan J; Moule, Madeleine G; Sule, Preeti et al. (2017) Polyelectrolyte Multilayer Nanocoating Dramatically Reduces Bacterial Adhesion to Polyester Fabric. ACS Biomater Sci Eng 3:1845-1852
Kong, Ying; Yang, Dong; Cirillo, Suat L G et al. (2016) Application of Fluorescent Protein Expressing Strains to Evaluation of Anti-Tuberculosis Therapeutic Efficacy In Vitro and In Vivo. PLoS One 11:e0149972
Nooshabadi, Fatemeh; Yang, Hee-Jeong; Bixler, Joel N et al. (2016) Intravital Fluorescence Excitation in Whole-Animal Optical Imaging. PLoS One 11:e0149932
Sule, Preeti; Tilvawala, Ronak; Behinaein, Parnia et al. (2016) New directions using reporter enzyme fluorescence (REF) as a tuberculosis diagnostic platform. Tuberculosis (Edinb) 101S:S78-S82
Galbadage, Thushara; Shepherd, Tonya F; Cirillo, Suat L G et al. (2016) The Caenorhabditis elegans p38 MAPK Gene plays a key role in protection from mycobacteria. Microbiologyopen 5:436-52

Showing the most recent 10 out of 14 publications