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Infect Immun. Feb 1981; 31(2): 564–570.
PMCID: PMC351345

Adhesion, hemagglutination, and virulence of Escherichia coli causing urinary tract infections.


The capacity of 453 Escherichia coli strains to agglutinate erythrocytes and yeast cells and to attach to human urinary tract epithelial cells was tested. The strains were isolated from the urine of patients with acute pyelonephritis, acute cystitis, or asymptomatic bacteriuria and from the stools of healthy school children. Three main patterns of hemagglutination were found: (i) mannose-resistant agglutination of human erythrocytes alone or simultaneously with mannose-sensitive agglutination of guinea pig erythrocytes; (ii) only mannose-sensitive agglutination of guinea pig and other erythrocytes; and (iii) no agglutination. Strains with mannose-resistant agglutination of human erythrocytes alone or in combination with mannose-sensitive hemagglutination attached in high numbers to human urinary tract epithelial cells. Bacteria inducing only mannose-sensitive hemagglutination attached in low numbers, and non-agglutinating strains did not bind to the urinary tract epithelial cells. The bacterial surface antigen(s) mediating mannose-resistant hemagglutination of human erythrocytes and attachment to human urinary tract epithelial cells may be one factor selecting for E. coli from among the fecal flora which infect the urinary tract. The highest proportion of strains with this property was found among acute pyelonephritis isolates (77%), and the lowest proportion of strains with this property was found among normal fecal E. coli (16%).

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