Rickettsia tsutsugamushi, strain Gilliam, replicates in cultures of resident peritoneal macrophages from BALB/c mice. Macrophage cultures treated with culture supernatants of spleen cells from rickettsial-infected mice stimulated with heat-killed rickettsiae markedly suppressed macrophage infection by rickettsiae. Rickettsiacidal activity of activated macrophages was dependent upon both lymphokine concentration and time of incubation in lymphokines. Treatment of macrophage cultures with lymphokines before exposure to viable rickettsiae resulted in an immediate decrease in percent macrophages infected and numbers of viable intracellular rickettsiae. In these cultures, enhanced intracellular killing was also apparent with further incubation (24 hr). The immediate effect of lymphokine-pretreated macrophages was dissociated from intracellular killing by infecting macrophage cultures first and adding lymphokines after infection. In these cultures, both percent macrophages infected and titers of viable intracellular rickettsiae were dramatically reduced as well.

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