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J Clin Microbiol. Sep 1991; 29(9): 1795–1800.
PMCID: PMC270213

Fimbrial types among respiratory isolates belonging to the family Enterobacteriaceae.


Bacterial attachment is believed to be an early step in gram-negative nosocomial pneumonia. The frequency of fimbria-associated adhesins among respiratory pathogens has not been studied in detail. In this study isolates belonging to the family Enterobacteriaceae, prospectively obtained from intensive care unit patients who were suspected of having nosocomial pneumonia, were examined for fimbria-associated adhesins. Type 3, P, type 1, and other fimbrial phenotypes were identified by specific hemagglutination and electron microscopy. The Klebsiella type 3 fimbrial phenotype was further characterized by using a monoclonal antibody. Also, both type 3 and Escherichia coli P fimbrial genotypes were detected by using DNA colony blot assays. The frequencies of genera or species isolated were as follows: Enterobacter (38.6%), Klebsiella (26.8%), Serratia (17.7%), E. coli (13%), and Proteus (5.2%). Isolates of Klebsiella oxytoca, K. pneumoniae, and Enterobacter cloacae most commonly possessed the type 3 fimbrial phenotype and genotype. The phenotype and genotype for E. coli P fimbriae (46.2 and 50%, respectively), a known pathogenic determinant in the urinary tract, were detected more frequently than expected. In addition, a previously unspecified hemagglutinin that was specific for porcine erythrocytes was almost uniformly expressed among isolates of Enterobacter aerogenes. Finally, the expression of the type 1 fimbrial phenotype was widely detected among the isolates tested but notably absent among K. oxytoca and Proteus mirabilis isolates. The frequency of the various fimbrial types identified suggests a role for these bacterial organelles in adherence to respiratory epithelia.

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